October 2008 Archive
-September 2008 - November 2008 -
Links- internally where there are follow-up stories we try, at the end of each story, to put a pertinent link to the top of the previous relevant story. Regarding external links see note at end of page.
RNW October comment -White spaces, white noise! Argues in favour of using the unused parts of broadcast spectrum for wireless Internet as being in the wider public interest albeit proceeding with caution and regulating to as to not to cause interference to broadcast signals.
2008-10-31: BBC Director General Mark Thompson has revealed that BBC Radio 2's former controller Lesley Douglas, was aware before they were aired of the controversial calls left by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross on the answer phone of actor Andrew Sachs to the effect that Brand had, as Ross crudely put it, "fucked your granddaughter", and later broadcast in a recorded edition of the Russell Brand Show
In an interview on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2, Vine noted that Douglas had not actually heard the comments although the producer directly involved had, and Thompson responded that the BBC was still "looking in detail and talking to some of the people involved but I think it's fair to say Lesley was aware of the key parts of the content of the programme.
Douglas has been defended by a number of people including Radio 2 host Chris Evans who described her as "The best boss I've ever head" and Dame Liz Forgan, former Managing Director, BBC Network Radio, who told BBC Radio 4, "She has probably brought more fun, and happiness and pleasure to millions of licence payers than many other people in the BBC. I do not see how the licence payers can possible be served by her resignation. I think the BBC has lost its wits."
However another Radio 2 host Paul Gambaccini said that when it was announced that Douglas had hired Brand he had warned her about the danger.
"In this profession, we never disparage a colleague. It's an unwritten rule," he said, "but when this hire was announced I sent an e-mail of protest to her, the only one I've ever sent in my entire career. I knew this would end in tears because it could only end in tears. When you pick up a time bomb, one day it will explode because that's what time bombs do.
Brand had resigned before Douglas did so and Ross has been suspended for 12 weeks without pay although it appears that the BBC will still have to pay his production company Hot Sauce, which employs around thirty people to make his "Friday Night with Jonathan Ross" TV show and Radio 2 show. In addition BBC Resources, the BBC's commercial wing, will lose around GBP 550,000 (USD 865,000) in cancelled studio costs.
Ross has also pulled out of presenting this year's British Comedy Awards on ITV in December (for which he was reported to have been due to be paid GBP 100,000 (USD 160,000) because of the row.
In all the BBC received around 35,000 protests about the show following the extensive publicity given to it, leading to a Facebook group supporting Ross and Brand to attempt to top that number. As of Friday night more than 15,000 people had joined the group.
Previous Brand & Ross:
2008-10-31: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has agreed a USD 85,000 Consent Decree with Beasley Broadcast Group to settle various alleged indecent, profane or obscene broadcasts on its Florida stations WQAM-AM, Miami, and WRXK-FM, Bonita Springs.
The decree relates to multiple allegations of violations of FCC indecency rules that led to investigations and the issuing of a USD 55,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) in November 2004 relating to September 9 & 10, 2003 editions of the "Scott Ferrall Show" (See RNW Nov 24, 2004). In the first broadcast the host - who was dropped by the station in November 2003 - was involved in a heated exchange with an angry male caller that according to the complaint involved the host saying the caller would re raped and sodomized in prison, that while he was in jail Ferrall would "stuff his package into the caller's wife's mouth", would "do her daily" and then get his girlfriend to do her.
In the second broadcast the FCC said there was graphic and explicit description of child molestation that although coached in terms of innuendo were "nonetheless sufficient to render the material actionably indecent because the sexual import of those terms was 'unmistakable.'"
As part of the settlement the FCC drops the NAL and also dismisses other complaints relating to WQAM's airing of advertisements for internet gambling websites, its broadcast of discussions concerning wagering or betting, and its conduct of an internet contest and all informal objections to the station's licence (Including objections from Miami attorney and indecency crusader John B. Thompson. Earlier this month the FCC had denied his call for reconsideration of its Enforcement Bureau's rejection of his complaint against Beasley Broadcast Group that alleged that the broadcaster had had engaged in improper conduct by retaliating against him for filing indecency complaints - See RNW Licence News Oct 26 )
Beasley on its part is to conduct training for relevant staff at the stations concerning indecent broadcasts. In addition if in future either station receives an NAL or any document proposing a forfeiture or non-renewal or revocation of licence related to obscene or indecent broadcasts it agrees that all the staff responsible for the airing of the material or decision to air it are to be suspended and an immediate investigation undertaken.
These employees will then have to undergo remedial training on the relevant regulations and satisfy management that they understand them before being allowed to resume their duties and broadcasts by on-air staff involved will be subjected to a time delay to allow a programme monitor, who is to be assigned to them, to prevent the "broadcast of material that is actionably obscene, indecent, and/or profane."
The decree requirements are to run for three years.
2008-10-31: Writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, Bruce DuMont, Chairman of the US National Radio Hall of Fame, has commented on the controversy surrounding the selection of Focus on the Family, founded by psychologist Dr. James Dobson for the Hall's 2008 inductees..
Dobson recorded his first radio program calling for a return to conservative, Christian values (RNW comment: It might be more accurate to describe them as largely pre-Christian since the balance seems old-Testament rather than Sermon on the Mount in tenor) in 1978 and now hosts an internationally syndicated show that is heard on over 4,000 stations worldwide.
The decision has been opposed by LBGT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual) organizations because of Dobson's attacks on homosexuals and earlier this month dumpdobson.com placed a full-page advert in the paper calling for the decision to be rescinded, describing Dobson's comments as examples of bigotry, intolerance and hatred and accusing him of being "flagrantly dishonest", saying that he "repeatedly has been caught lying and deliberately spreading misinformation about gay and lesbian people."
On Thursday this week the paper carried an Op-Ed by Wayne Besen, the executive director of "Truth Wins Out " that said the Museum of Broadcast Communications (which organizes the National Radio Hall of Fame) would be "making a regrettable mistake if it follows through on its plan to induct Focus on the Family's James Dobson into its Radio Hall of Fame on Nov. 8" and saying that "To LGBT people, Dobson is a dangerous demagogue who has repeatedly dehumanized our very existence. He has lied about our lives, distorted science to back his falsehoods and peddled destructive stereotypes. Dobson has lobbied to pass anti-gay laws, divided families in the name of family values and said that allowing gay people to marry will 'end the earth.'"
He comments on Dobson's record of misrepresentation and then says, "Given this dubious record, it is astounding that the Museum of Broadcast Communications would elect to honour Dobson. MBC's Director, Bruce Dumont, defends this amoral decision by saying that the views and actions of the 2008 inductees were not taken under consideration. This is a cop out. If Dobson had insulted another minority in the same way, he never would have been nominated in the first place."
In his Op-Ed, DuMont writes that "To better understand the controversy, people need to better understand the nomination and induction process of the Hall of Fame."
He then notes that since 1992, the steering committee of the Hall of Fame in Chicago has nominated individuals and programs for induction based on published criteria of on-air tenure and broadcast accomplishment and says that this year instead of the traditional practice of mailing nominations "to dues-paying members of the museum and hundreds of established leaders of the radio industry for voting and the actual induction" the committee recommended a change to an online voting process."
"..anyone who chose to vote online could have done so, and there was plenty of time to vote. The public online voting period opened on May 1 and ended July 15," writes DuMont.
"Since voting began in 1992, the steering committee has never taken a nominee's political or religious views into consideration," says DuMont. "Radio is an industry predicated on free speech -- Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Howard Stern (who were nominated in the same category) do not see the world the same way."
He goes on to say that the first indications if displeasure with the nomination came from Besen only six days before voting ended and comments on e-mail subsequently received but adds that "for the integrity of the process, the results for 2008 will stand, with protests noted."
DuMont says he personally "always treated the gay and lesbian community and its leaders fairly and objectively" and concludes, "I am fully aware of the pain Focus on the Family has caused in the gay community; I have also read and heard about how the Focus on the Family broadcasts have helped people over the past three decades. But the Radio Hall of Fame induction is not about political or religious philosophy -- or my personal opinion."
RNW comment: Much as Dobson may be all that DumpDobson have alleged, in the ultimate analysis we think that once the nomination was made the Museum could only honourably have carried on with the voting process it had set up. Equally if the nomination was made on the basis of publicly available criteria, it would have been an abdication of any concern for free speech to have barred Dobson. After all Time named as its "Man of the Year" such figures as Adolf Hitler (1938); Joseph Stalin (1939 and 1942); and the Ayatollah Khomeini (1979), all of whom in terms of the criteria applied deserved the appellation and all of whom in our view somewhat out-rank Dobson in terms of dubious influence or worse.
Previous Museum of Broadcast Communications:
Chicago Sun-Times - dumpdobson.com advert (Jpeg):
Chicago Sun-Times - Bese Op-Ed:
Chicago Sun-Times - DuMont Op-Ed:
2008-10-30: In latest North American results Astral Media has reported its 12th consecutive year of growth with fiscal year revenues up 35% to CAD 865.4 million (USD 720.6 million) - up 43% for the fourth quarter to CAD 229.9 million (USD 191.4 million) and CBS Corporation has reported third quarter revenues up 3% to USD 3.38 billion within which TV revenues were up 2% to USD 2.08 billion but radio was down 12% to USD 392.5 million- Same station radio revenues were down 11% for the third quarter; outdoor was down 1% to USD 549.3 million and publishing was up 5% to USD 225 million : the revenue growth was driven by domestic cable syndication sale of CSI: New York, and the acquisition of CNET Networks, partially offset by lower advertising revenues, and CBS also noted an increase in interactive revenues from USD 35.9 million to USD 14.7 million.
At Astral net earnings from continuing operations for Fiscal 2008 increased by 19% to CAD 150.5 million (USD 125.3 million - to CAD 2.67 per basic share) and for the quarter they were up 29% to CAD 40.8 million (USD 34.0 million -CAD 0.65 per basic share).
President and CEO Ian Greenberg commented, "This marks a 12th consecutive year of profitable growth for Astral Media. This unique track record in our industry speaks directly to our strong and stable management team, disciplined financial and operational practices and to the dedication of more than 2,800 employees.''
In divisional terms TV revenues for the year were up 5% to CAD 497 million (USD 413.8 million with EBITDA up 5% to CAD 179.5 million (USD 149.5 million) and radio revenues - boosted by the acquisition of Standard Radio went up 156% to CAD 296.3 million (USD 246.7 million) with EBITDA up 171% to CAD 111.1 million (USD 92.5 million). For the final quarter TV EBITDA was down from CAD 42.9 million to CAD 41.8 million (From USD 35.7 million to USD 34.8 million) and for radio final quarter EBITDA rose from CAD 11.4 million to CAD 37.2 million (From USD 9.5 million to USD 31.0 million).
At CBS, which has recently fired a number of radio staff, Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone commented," In the current economy, every company must keep a firm eye on costs and manage each business with distinction. Leslie and his team are doing just that, and I'm confident that they will continue to position CBS for success now and in the future."
President and CEO Leslie Moonves added, "Our strategy is to grow our businesses for the long term by creating the best possible content, while keeping our commitment to providing very attractive dividends that offer value to our shareholders."
"We are confident," he added, "that this will produce value and stability in today's marketplace and solid growth as the economy begins to improve. Our strong year-to-date free cash flow of $1.4 billion enables us to strategically invest in our businesses and is more than sufficient to pay our dividend. At the same time, we believe that in good times and bad, remaining leaders in the content we produce is all-important."
CBS's bottom line was hit by an interim impairment test carried out on its existing goodwill and intangible assets for all reporting units during the third quarter of 2008: This resulted in a pre-tax non-cash impairment charge of USD 14.12 billion taking it to a net loss from continuing operations for the quarter of USD 12.46 billion compared to a positive USD 340.2 million a year earlier (from a positive 48 cents per diluted share to a loss of USD 18.58).
Revenues for the first nine months of the year were up 1% to 10.42 billion but the impairment charge took its net earnings from USD 957.7 million a year earlier to a loss of USD 11.81 billion ( from USD 1.30 per diluted share to a loss of USD 17.64 per diluted share).
CBS commented that as previously announced, the continued economic slowdown in the United States has adversely affected advertising revenues across the Company's businesses, primarily at the local level, and the effects of the current financial crisis are likely to cause further declines in advertising spending.
As a result, it said, the Company expects full year OIBDA and operating income to decline mid-teens from the prior year. The Company's 2008 business outlook excludes impairment and restructuring charges, stock-based compensation expense, and the impact of the acquisition of CNET and divestitures.
In divisional terms radio revenues for the nine months were down 10% to USD 1.172 billion and TV was up 1% to UD 6.786 billion whilst outdoor was up 5% to USD 1.644 billion and publishing was down 5% to USD 612.6 million.
Radio operating income was down 19% for the final quarter to USD 1309.6 million and down 20% for the nine months to USD 396.3 million whilst TV operating income was down 17% for the quarter to USD 368.6 million and down 5% for the nine months to USD 1.245 billion.
2008-10-30: Lesley Douglas, Controller, BBC Radio 2, 6 Music and Popular Music, has now resigned and the corporation has suspended Jonathan Ross for 12 weeks without pay in the wake of the row over crude remarks left by Ross and Russell Brand, who resigned yesterday (See RNW Oct 29), on the answer phone of actor Andrew Sachs.
In her resignation letter Douglas, who hired both Brand and Ross, said to BBC Director-General Mark Thompson, "The last week has been a painful one for the BBC and particularly for BBC Radio 2. It is with enormous regret that I have decided to resign as Controller of BBC Radio 2, BBC 6 Music and of Popular Music. This is my decision alone."
She continued, "Over the 23 years of my career at the BBC I have enjoyed a deep love and respect for both the audience and the BBC. The events of the last two weeks happened on my watch. I believe it is right that I take responsibility for what has happened. It is a matter of the greatest possible sadness to me that a programme on my network has been the cause of such a controversy. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my personal apology to Andrew Sachs and his family and to the audience for what has happened."
She ended by writing, "It has been a huge privilege to have been entrusted with the leadership of the UK's most popular radio station, which is so intensely loved by the audience. I have also had the tremendous pleasure of launching BBC 6 Music and more recently of leading popular music output across the BBC.I know I leave BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music in the hands of a dedicated and passionate team of incredibly talented presenters and production staff. I am enormously proud of what we have achieved together."
Thompson in accepting the resignation said he did so with "real sadness" and continued, "There is no doubt that my sadness today will be shared both across the BBC and the wider music industry."
He then went on to praise Douglas, writing, "You have been an outstanding Head of Programmes and then Controller of Radio 2 over the past eight years. You have presided over a creative transformation of the Network, and have rightly been recognised by the industry for your massive contribution to UK radio."
"Your decision to take responsibility for what has happened," continued Thompson, "is an illustration of the integrity and commitment which has characterised your leadership at BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music. Over the past 23 years, you have been a devoted servant of the BBC, and your absence will be felt by your many colleagues and friends at the BBC. I am sure you will continue to make an outstanding contribution to radio and popular music in the UK."
Thompson had earlier reported to a meeting of the BBC Trust Editorial Standards Committee over the Russell Brand Show broadcast of October 18 that sparked the row and in a news release the BBC said he "made it clear that there had been a serious breach of editorial compliance that allowed grossly offensive material to be broadcast, which should never have happened. He also reiterated his regret that any suffering had been caused to Andrew Sachs, his granddaughter and family as a result and expressed regret that the broadcast had caused serious public offence."
It added that Tim Davie, Director of BBC Audio & Music, reported on the known facts behind the making of the programme, its content and what had occurred during the editorial supervision and compliance of the broadcast.
After announcing Ross's suspension Thompson continued, "The ultimate editorial responsibility for BBC programmes lies with producers and editorial managers. The consequences of errors of judgement are therefore more serious for managers. Nonetheless, Jonathan Ross's contribution to this edition of the Russell Brand show was utterly unacceptable and cannot be allowed to go uncensured or without sanction. A 12-week suspension is an exceptional step, but I believe it is a proportionate response to Jonathan's role in this unhappy affair."
He said of Ross's response to the incident that the broadcaster had "already made a comprehensive and unreserved personal apology to Andrew Sachs and his grand-daughter" and continued, "I believe that he fully understands the seriousness of what has happened. I have made very clear to him the central importance of the clause in his contract about not bringing the BBC into disrepute. We agree that nothing like this must ever happen again and that tight discipline will be required for the future."
The statement said that the Trust had approved an urgent comprehensive review of compliance procedures across all radio output in the Audio & Music division to be carried out immediately by the Deputy Director-General, with recommendations for action to be delivered to the BBC Trust by December and that with immediate effect, the Director of BBC Audio & Music will ensure that all programmes are re-assessed for editorial risk and all those identified as representing a high risk have additional and strong oversight.
Special sessions says the BBC will be held over the next six weeks, led by the Director-General and Deputy Director-General, to highlight to all senior editorial leaders and compliance staff across the BBC the serious editorial and compliance failures identified in this case, and the lessons to be learnt to prevent it happening again and the BBC management's Editorial Standards Board will lead a study into where the appropriate boundaries of taste and standards should lie across all BBC output.
The BBC Trust in its statement from chairman Sir Michael Lyons said, it was "dismayed both that the offensive comments broadcast on the Russell Brand Show on 18 October fell so far short of audiences' legitimate expectations, and by the deplorable intrusion in to the privacy of Mr Sachs and his granddaughter. The transmission of these comments via a BBC Radio programme represents an abuse of the privilege given to the BBC to broadcast to its audiences. On behalf of the BBC, the Trust offers a full and unreserved apology to Andrew Sachs, Georgina Baillie and the rest of his family. The Trust extends this apology to licence fee payers as a whole."
It ordered the BBC to "issue an on-air apology to licence fee payers on BBC Radio 2 for the serious and deliberate breaches of the BBC Editorial Guidelines on Offence and Privacy" and also required the Director-General to write personally to Andrew Sachs and Georgina Baillie to apologise on behalf of the Corporation.
Of the actual airing of the comments it said, "Editorial control and compliance procedures in non-news areas of the BBC's Audio and Music department are inadequate and need to be strengthened. We have asked the Director-General to present formal recommendations to strengthen editorial controls and compliance for the Trust's consideration at our December meeting. Once approved, the Trust will independently validate the effectiveness of these measures after they are implemented. Furthermore, we have requested the Executive to strengthen immediately the editorial controls around any programme which represents high levels of editorial risk. Also in this area, we have asked the Executive to assess immediately the editorial controls and compliance procedures in place for all programmes - across television and radio - where the production company is owned and/or managed by the featured performer (The Russell Brand Show was produced by his own company)".
Douglas's role will be covered on an interim basis by Radio 2's of programmes, Lewis Carnie, who was on holiday when the broadcast was given the go-ahead.
Douglas joined the BBC as a production assistant in a research department after studying English as Manchester University. She moved in 1985 to the David Jacobs show, and then became a producer in the Music and Promotions department before being promoted to Editor, Radio 2 Presentation and Planning in 1993, Managing Editor, BBC Radio 2 in 1997, and Head of Programmes in 2000.
In that role she worked Jim Moir, her predecessor as Radio 2 Controller, to modernize the station, which is the UK's most popular.
In October 2003 she was named as successor to Moir, who was to stand down at the end of the year (See RNW Oct 11, 2003) taking up her new role on Jan 5, 2004.
Amongst the controversial broadcasting names she hired for Radio 2 were Ross (whose Saturday BBC Radio 2 show was launched in 1999) and Brand (hired at 6 Music in April 2006 - in November that year she decided to move him from BBC 6 Music to the Saturday night Radio 2 show that led to her resignation -See RNW Nov 3, 2006- he had by then been fired by MTV for dressing up as Osama bin Laden after the World Trade Centre attacks) and Chris Evans, who she hired for the weekday drive time slot in March 2006 -See RNW Mar 3, 2006).
Previous Brand and Ross:
2008-10-30: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest bulletin upholds one radio standards complaint and considered another resolved through action already taken by the broadcaster. It also upheld five TV standards complaints and posted details of a TV Fairness and Privacy complaint not upheld.
The numbers compare with no radio and six TV standards complaints upheld in the previous bulletin.
The radio complaint upheld was against GCap Media and the one considered resolved involved GMG Radio.
In the GCap case the presenters on the BRMB Breakfast show had trailed an "Aldi taste test that compared Aldi products to other brands and was run as the final feature in the programme.
Init one of the two regular show hosts blind tasted various products and her colleague introduced the results after which the two talked about the results and also the prices charged for its own-brand products amongst other things and a listener complained that they "constantly talked up the value of Aldi stores, against all competition "
GMG told Ofcom there was no "commercial arrangement" with the store concerning the feature and said it not consider that Aldi products were being promoted in the feature, as "they were not chosen as the favourites on each occasion" and "were not particularly favoured above other products."
It also said the references to Aldi and its products were editorially justified in the context of the breakfast show's ongoing topical discussions concerning the credit crunch and rising prices - in particular, low cost supermarkets, ways to beat price rises and cutting petrol and energy costs.
It added that, as one of the breakfast show's presenters was "perceived by listeners as being wealthy and somewhat flashy", he had decided to try shopping at a low price supermarket. Having done so, he decided to ask his co-presenter to carry out a 'taste test', comparing Aldi's own groceries with other brand products, to show that "unbranded, low cost products can be of equal quality to their branded rivals, and as such listeners could save money without compromising on quality."
GCap said other supermarket chains' products could have been used in the test but Aldi was chosen, as "it is perceived to be a particularly 'low cost' supermarket."
Ofcom in its ruling said in this case, there was clearly editorial justification for the feature, which was presented in the context of cost-cutting in the current economic climate but in this case "the manner in which Aldi's products, and in particular, the Aldi brand overall, were featured in this item went beyond what was editorially justified in the circumstances."
It also considered that the feature not only positively endorsed Aldi and its products but also encouraged listeners to shop at Aldi and had breached its codes.
In that GMG case its Century Northwest ran a competition for tickets to a local event I which a brief song excerpt was played with a word removed. Listeners were invited to send a premium-rated text message containing the missing word, by using a text short code. On this occasion the missing word was 'love' but GMG also used he word on all station short codes for its online dating service.
It had contacted Ofcom that the presenter had not been aware of the issue and that some texts would because of the system not have been entered for the competition. In all 230 entries had been wrongly excluded and all those were notified by text and phone of the error and offered refunds -of those contacted 26 responded, 13 asked for refunds, two for the charge to go to the station's charity and the others said they did not require refunds. In addition an apology was broadcast on the same show the following day including the information that those excluded would be contacted about refunds. Ofcom considered the action taken resolved the matter.
In addition to the above it also listed without details 295 TV complaints against 156 items and 26 radio complaints against 26 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compares with 330 TV complaints against 153 items and 27 radio complaints against 27 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2008-10-30: Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) has announced that it, like Radio One (See RNW Oct 23), has fallen below NASDAQ listing requirements but is getting a reprieve because the market has opted to suspend enforcement of its minimum bid price rules until January 20 next year because of current extraordinary market conditions.
SBS stock had fallen below the minimum dollar required for 30 days and the company now has until February 17 next year to regain compliance.
SBS also announced that it has entered into an agreement with BC Media Funding Company II, LLC to pay off a USD 18.5 million non-interest bearing promissory note that was due January 2. It added that it had paid USD 18.35 million, having received a discount of USD 150,000 for early payment.
SBS shares closed Thursday at 24 cents having ranged between 16 cents and USD 2.59 over the past year. They were last above a dollar at closing on July 8 this year when the price was USD 1.04
2008-10-30: This week there was only one radio-related story that both got worldwide runs and actually led most of the British national newspapers for at least a day and several days for some.
This was the row over the crude phone calls left by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross on the answer phone of actor Andrew Sachs who played the Spanish waiter Manuel in the Fawlty Towers TV sitcom.
The story hasn't ended yet - current indications are that the incident will lead to yet further attacks on the Corporation - but the direct fallout has already led to the resignation of Brand and the BBC Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas plus the suspension for 12 weeks without pay of Ross, who has a 3- year GBP 18 million (USD 28 million) contract for his BBC radio and TV shows.
The incident touched a chord - and a generational divide - in the UK with most people finding it offensive to leave a call on a 78-year-old's phone about "fucking his granddaughter" but with the BBC Radio 4 speech channel audience (generally older, more serious and better educated and informed) overwhelmingly condemnatory and the BBC Radio 1 pop channel audience (generally younger) defending Brand by a 2-1 majority of those who made postings.
From the many papers that have run comments we have opted to concentrate on those in the UK Guardian as it is generally left-leaning and also through its Media Guardian carries more media news than other UK national newspapers.
It would therefore be expected to be more inclined to defend the broadcasters than many rivals and certainly more so than the Mail group, which brought the matter to national attention through a lead in the Mail on Sunday and the tabloid newspapers whose interest followed the usual route of trying to get exclusives (The Sun succeeded with the granddaughter involved) about sex and scandal rather than considering any serious implications for governing a national broadcaster.
To our surprise the comments in the paper were overwhelmingly against the broadcasters with many calling for more severe action.
But not all: From today we start with a posting to the paper under the topic, "Has the BBC taken the right action over the Brand-Ross phone prank affair" that was fairly vehemently opposed to the BBC action.
In it "Thismakesmemad" commented, "I wish the BBC could have grown a pair and given the finger to all the sad, sad b*****ds that complained as a result of what was really a pathetic Daily Hate campaign against the institution and its presenters. The joyless, soulless, self-appointed moral police that read that vile excuse for a newspaper are no doubt smirking with glee tonight."
Others felt the matter had overblown with a posting from Chris Porrit saying, "Who cares? This is all a storm in a tea cup. No one died. None of this matters. A lot of people talking about nothing at all. What a bloody waste."
Then there was the factor of the large pay packets involved: A response to the Porrit post contrasted the broadcasters pay with that of many licence payers- "Yeah. £16K a DAY, what care, agricultural and many other workers earn a year, paid to a toss like Ross from public funds. Chuck the swine out on his ear. He ain't worth it by a long shot. Let him go sit at home and wank off to his favourite Maggie Thatcher picture. [The latter a reference to Ross on his TV chat show asking Conservative Party leader David Cameron if he had masturbated to pictures of Thatcher]."
And from a post assessing the effectiveness of the BBC action in stopping the row from continuing, "The DG should resign. If he hasn't the stomach to fire Ross then he should go instead of firing underlings - don't believe the hype that Lesley Douglas fell on her own sword without a push. Ross' 'punishment' means nothing. If the BBC really wanted to draw the line on all this then it has failed miserably. This will rumble on and on."
The postings on this topic were different in tone from responses on the same day to the paper's "Organ Grinder" column that was headed, "BBC finally gets it right on the Brand-Ross phone prank row" and that began by commenting , "A 12-week suspension for Jonathan Ross feels, oddly, about right. Suspension without pay actually claws back some of the BBC licence fee money the nation is constantly asked to be outraged about paying him."
After other comment it went on to praise Douglas: "However, it's as if, since Gavyn Davies and Greg Dyke had to leave over a row with Alastair Campbell, all sense of proportion has been lost and any incident must be accompanied by at least one resignation to have any impact whatsoever. And Douglas, genuinely a very talented executive who has run a largely successful station - the most listened to in the UK - has resigned to protect her programming teams."
And then after more on Douglas and the earlier resignation of BBC1 Controller Peter Fincham, "On this evidence, being a successful network controller is a far riskier business than, say, a more senior executive responsible for the channels. Douglas will doubtless do very well and earn buckets of cash elsewhere but she has been robbed of a station she cherished, as head of programmes and then controller, for eight years. She will be greatly missed."
Others were less supportive with one comment saying, " However admirable Lesley Douglas's decision to resign may be, she sat at the top of a compliance system which was obviously broken. In the dodgy phone call row on 6 Music, a deputy head did roll while the man who oversaw it was allowed to resign with dignity intact. The fault line went all the way to the top."
The post then continued, "This whole episode sums up the absolute lack of self-awareness at the top of the BBC. For Mark Thompson and Lesley Douglas's complacency, handing own goals to the BBC's enemies at the Mail, puts at risk the futures of 20,000 people who work for the BBC - many of whom will have to go on another bloody course in self-flagellation because of this."
After all the flak the BBC has taken, we felt we should mention an equally tasteless broadcast in the US that roused very little comment. It came from Chicago WLS-AM morning host Don Wade whose sense of humour went adrift with a segment on his show in which he imagined how Barack Obama's allegedly adoring press corps would cover it if the senator murdered his grandmother.
CBS2 in its report notes that even his co-host and wife Roma objected to Wade's comment in which it reports "Wade claimed reporters would let Obama get away with anything, even if they were shown videotape of the senator suffocating his own grandmother."
Its report notes an e-mail it received saying that Wade "crossed the line this morning describing an insensitive and coded hate scenario where Obama goes to Hawaii and murders his grandmother. It was appalling, disturbing, ugly and over the top."
A talkingpointsmemo blog headed, "Republicans Are Sick: Radio Host Fantasizes Obama Murdering His Own Grandmother" was rather more critical, beginning," We've seen and heard some pretty ugly stories recently from the Republican ranks, but just when you think the stories can't get any uglier, they get uglier" and noting that Wade's comments "coincided with Obama's actual visit to the bedside of his ailing grandmother in Hawaii, which Wade ghoulishly turned into a fantasy murder scene captured on video."
It continues, " 'The video clearly shows Grandmother greeting Barack Obama coming through the door...,' Wade described with obvious relish, '...Barack Obama comes over, sits down beside the grandmother, and places a pillow over her face and holds the pillow over her face until she struggles no more.'"
The blog notes that the Obama campaign declined to comment on Wade's remarks (RNW comment: Like Andrew Sachs it would appear that the victims in this case have more class than all the broadcasters involved joined together!) but thereafter responses to it were very much party-line partisan although one made a fair point, commenting, "So because Don Wade is a lunatic with a talk show (perhaps not for much longer) and a number of attendees at McCain/Palin rallies are lunatics, republicans are sick?
"Chuck Hagel is not sick, Richard Luger is not sick, and millions of other folks who identify with the Republican Party are not sick, but are reasonable, responsible people.
"So why doesn't your headline read "Don Wade is Sick"?
"Don Wade is Caucasian, so all Caucasians must be sick. And all those who might subscribe to Don Wade's religion are sick.
"Get the point?"
RNW response: Indeed we do but as others pointed out in response, the comments being made were in a context and not to be taken literally.
One response made an equally valid point about some of those concerned - it could apply just as well in its essential meaning to some of Brand and Ross's defenders- "This Republican ghoul was on the air trying to whip up the Republican base with a hate-filled sociopath Republican yarn about the next President of the United States murdering his terminally-ill grandmother, during a time of his grief-filled last visit to her, and what bothers you about the report of this act of unimaginable cruelty is the syntax of the headline."
Returning to the BBC row and comments posted to the Daily Mail -almost universally of condemnation, we end with a comment opposing the straight condemnation and calls for dismissals - or maybe just poking the Mail readers in their eyes: "Just like Churchill's radio addresses during the war this was a momentous piece of broadcasting that uplifted our souls during challenging times. However, Ross and Brand seem to have the edge over WC as their hilarious routine was entirely improvised. The podcast alone is worth double my licence fee although I'll never forget where I was when I first heard the live broadcast. This week's show goes even further by cocking a snook at the faux moral outrage -edgy and physically funny.
On then to listening suggestions, and in line with the story we suggest as a first call in listening a dip into the BBC Radio 4 regular news and current affairs shows (Today, World at One, PM, and World Tonight) along with Radio Five Live from the start of the week to see how the BBC's own coverage of the row developed.
From BBC Radio 2 we can no longer suggest Brand or Ross this weekend (or last - those shows have been removed from the site) but from its other programming we note Monday's fourth and final instalment of "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie... ...The Louis Jordan Story"; Tuesday's "Bruce and Sammy" in which Bruce Forsyth gives personal stories and recollections of his friend, Sammy Davis Jr. and the following "The Blagger's Guide to Country."; Friday's (19:00 GMT ) second part of the six part "The Judy Garland Trail"; and Saturday's "The Fourth, The Fifth... ...The Minor Fall" in which Elbow's Guy Garvey examines the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah by talking to the artists who have covered it over the 25 years since it was first recorded.
From BBC Radio 3 we suggest last Sunday's "Drama on 3" - "Caligari"; last Saturday's "The Wire" - "Nowt to Look at", the tale of Annie, a rose-obsessed, disfigured recluse, a spoilt boy and a shy girl and next Saturday's "The Wire" - "49 Donkeys Hanged", a surreal, dark play about a farmer who hangs donkeys from tree branches on his land.
We also suggest the regular weekday "The Essay", that this week features "Night Walks, Episode 2" - with locations being a Tasmanian beach; North Manhattan; Saltcoats, near Glasgow; the big boulevards of Paris; and the City of London and the Night Waves slot on Friday and Sunday for programmes in which Matthew Sweet presents Free Thinking 2008 debates, interviews, dramas and lectures.
From BBC Radio 4 we opt for last Saturday's "Archive Hour"- "Potteries Fascists" in which Gerry Northam charts the rise and fall of Oswald Mosley and explores how and why the British Union of Fascists flourished on Mosley's home ground in the Potteries and "The Divine Spark of Music" -in which Composer James MacMillan delivers the Sandford St Martin Lecture.
During the week se suggest the Afternoon Readings - this week a series of Welsh stories; Tuesday's "File on 4" on the situation in Georgia, with Tim Whewhell reassessing the origins of the recent conflict with Russia and "Money on the Brain" in which Financial Times journalist Tim Harford investigates the academic field of neuroeconomics, which works to understand why people make economic decisions.; and Friday's "News Quiz".
RNW Note: We regret delay in posting our weekly look at print comment on radio that had been prepared largely on the basis of comment about the row over crude remarks made by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross and left on actor Andrew Sachs answer phone - prepared when complaints were building rapidly but before the BBC Director General broke his holiday and suspended the duo. Brand later resigned but Ross is so far hanging on.
Today was the first we can recall when a radio-related story led five British national newspapers - The Daily Express (THE JOKE IS ON US -referring to fact Ross is still being paid) ; Guardian (BRAND QUITS ROSS HANGS ON AS BBC TRIES TO CONTAIN FIRESTORM); Independent (MANUEL'S REVENGE); Daily Mail's (THE DAY OF RECKONING); Daily Star (WOSSY AXED BRAND QUITS); Sun (BRAND YELLED 'QUE' IN BED" (Sachs played a Spanish waiter in the classic sitcom Fawlty Towers); and Telegraph ("BBC FIGHTS TO SAVE ROSS AS BRAND RESIGNS - a shared lead).
CBS2, Chicago re Wade comments:
Daily Mail - comments re Brand and Ross:
Talkingpointsblog re Wade comments:
UK Guardian - Has the BBC taken the right action ?
UK Guardian - Organ Grinder re Brand and Ross:
2008-10-29: Following a statement by BBC Director General Mark Thompson suspending both Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross because of crude remarks they left on the answer phone of actor Andrew Sachs and later broadcast on Brand's BBC Radio 2 show, the former has now resigned from his Radio 2 show.
In the calls Ross said that Brand had "fucked" Sachs granddaughter Georgina Baillie and then left further messages. Baillie in today's Sun newspaper admitted she slept with Brand three times but called for the duo to be fired along with BBC Radio 2 executives who had allowed the pre-recorded comments to be aired.
Baillie asked of the calls to her 78-years-old grandfather, "What's funny about humiliating a lovely old man who has never harmed anyone in his life? My grandfather is really upset and says he wants the whole situation to end. It has been awful for him" and added of Brand and Ross, in relation to comments that the Sun says they had made in which the duo suggested they should make it up to Sachs by sneaking into his house at night and groping him intimately in his bed "They are beyond contempt. They must be the only people on earth sick enough to think that breaking into an old man's house and sexually abusing him might be funny."
The Sun tabloid newspaper had led today on its "exclusive" interview with Baillie - one of five British newspapers to lead with reports on the row - the others were the Daily Mail, whose sister paper the Mail on Sunday first gave the calls national prominence with a lead last weekend, the Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph and Sun sister paper The Times. Other papers carried prominent reports.
Reporting on Brand's decision online under the heading, "Crude Russell quits show" the Sun carried a fairly straight report including Brand's statement that read, "I have apologised to Andrew Sachs for the rude messages I left on Oct 18th and he has graciously accepted."As I only do the radio show to make people laugh I've decided that given the subsequent coverage I will stop doing the show. I've loved working for the BBC and am very proud of the shows myself, Matt Morgan (the English comedian), Nic Philps (the producer of Brand's radio show), Mr Gee (who provided the "summing up" poem at the end of the shows") and Noel Gallagher (of Oasis) have made and I apologise to all of them for damaging their careers - except Noel, whose band are doing quite well."
He also said of his "joke, "I got a bit caught up in the moment and forgot that at the core of the rude comments and silly songs were the real feelings of a beloved and brilliant comic actor and a very sweet and big hearted young woman. "Apologies are also owed to the loyal listeners of the show who enjoyed its' shambolic spirit and anarchy and will be upset that it cannot continue" and concluded, "I take complete responsibility and offer nothing but love and contrition and I hope that now Jonathan and the BBC will endure less forensic wrath." He ended the statement with the phrase "Hare Krishna", which he had repeatedly uttered outside his home yesterday when dodging comment to journalists.
The BBC has received nearly 30,000 complaints so far about the comments and in his earlier statement announcing the suspension of Brand and Ross its Director General Mark Thompson, who had been on holiday when the row broke, began with a personal apology.
"I would like to add my own personal and unreserved apology to Andrew Sachs, his family and to licence fee payers for the completely unacceptable broadcast on BBC Radio 2," read the statement. "BBC audiences accept that, in comedy, performers attempt to push the line of taste. However, this is not a marginal case. It is clear from the views expressed by the public that this broadcast has caused severe offence and I share that view. Since Sunday, I have been in regular contact with the senior executives I tasked with handling this issue. The investigation that I instructed Tim Davie to conduct is nearing completion, and I am returning to London to review the findings and, in the coming days, announce what action we will take."
He then concluded, "In the meantime, I have decided that it is not appropriate for either Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross to continue broadcasting on the BBC until I have seen the full report of the actions of all concerned. This gross lapse of taste by the performers and the production team has angered licence payers. I am determined that we satisfy them that any lessons will be learnt and appropriate action taken. I have been asked to report to the Trust's Editorial Standards Committee before the end of this week and will discuss with the Trust the findings of the report and the actions I propose."
The statement must put into question the future of Nic Philps, the 25-years-old producer of Brand's show (the show is made by Brand's own company), and also Lesley Douglas, Controller BBC Popular Music, Radio 2 & 6-Music. The airing was reported to have been allowed by a "senior" BBC executive but no name has yet emerged as to who this may have been.
Ross, who has a much larger contract with the BBC - worth some GBP 6 million (USD 9.4 million) a year compared to around GBP 200,000 (USD 330,000) for Brand - has not offered to resign but did issue a statement through his solicitors saying that he had not previously made a public apology - he had written privately to Sachs apologising - as he intended to make one on his BBC 1 TV chat show "Friday Night with Jonathan Ross", which was to have been recorded tonight but was then cancelled because of the suspension. He added that his comments were "a stupid error of judgment on my part and I offer a full apology."
Sachs, who had not called for dismissals, said of Brand's decision to quit: "I respect his decision. I hope he moves forward, I really hope he does" and told The Sun he "would not be reporting the matter to police, adding: "I am not going to take it anywhere. I'm not out for revenge." His granddaughter, however, had said she was "thrilled" by the suspension.
Brand, who still has a UK Channel 4 TV Show - "Russell Brand's Ponderland" - which next airs at 22:35 GMT tomorrow night - and writes a Saturday sports column for the UK Guardian newspaper has been told by both they will continue to employ him. He was reported to be preparing to fly to the US for work reasons.
Previous Brand & Ross:
UK Sun on Brand resignation:
UK Sun - Baillie comments:
2008-10-29: Greater Media has announced that its CEO Peter Smyth has been named chairman of its board to succeed John Bordes who died suddenly in September (See RNW Sep 26).
The other members of the board are all members of the family of co-founder Peter Bordes and Peter Bordes, Jr. commented of the appointment in a news release, "On behalf of the family, we are thrilled and honoured to have Peter as our chairman and CEO. He brings years of leadership and dedication not only to our company but to the industry, which holds him in the highest esteem. His enduring commitment to Greater Media carries on a tradition of excellence set forth by my father and upheld by my uncle."
Smyth responded, "I am honoured to be entrusted with this new responsibility," said Smyth. "But even more important, especially in these turbulent economic times, is that the Bordes family remains firmly committed to its investment in Greater Media's radio stations and is enthusiastic about the future of the company and the industry."
In other US radio management moves, James Donahoe has resigned as President and CEO of New Jersey-based Millennium Radio Group although he is to remain with the company until the end of the year
Donahue had been in his post since the company was founded in 2002 and is being replaced by William Saurer, a former company VP.
In a release Donohue commented that over the past six years the company, which has 12 stations in New Jersey, had "solidified our position as the largest media outlet in New Jersey delivering high-quality local programming to the 8.7 million people who call New Jersey home" and added, "Millennium has enjoyed exceptional financial success, doubling its operating profit during a period that proved challenging for broadcast media. Bill Saurer joins an extremely dedicated and professional staff, and I welcome him back to Millennium in his new leadership role."
Saurer commented, "I'm thrilled to be back working with [COO] Andy Santoro and the Millennium staff. I'd like to thank Jim Donahoe for helping to build Millennium and wish him well in his future pursuits."
Previous Greater Media:
2008-10-29: Liquidator Begbies Traynor has sold five of Laser Broadcasting's nine local radio stations to property developer John Roberts according to business sale.com.
Roberts, who owns Exeter-based South West Radio Ltd, has bought Laser Broadcasting South West Ltd, which owned Bath FM, Brunel FM, 3TR in Warminster, QuayWest in Bridgewater and QuayWest in Minehead leaving four stations Sunshine 106.2FM, Sunshine Gold and Sunshine Radio 954, based in the West Midlands and Monmouthshire and Fresh Radio in the Yorkshire Dales still for sale.
Roberts is a former Bath resident and his son Paul told ThisisBath, "We are very excited about Bath FM. On a personal level we have great ties and history with the city, but from a business point of view we really believe that the station can continue to be a vital part of the local community."
He added, "We have some excellent skills already situated in the station and are working closely with the staff to help them out of the tough period that they have experienced recently under the previous arrangement. We aim to continue and improve on what works so well with Bath FM, maintaining quality local radio with the only truly local radio station in the city."
Both publications note that Bristol-based broadcast development company Triple Media Communications, which managed Bath FM during the collapse of Laser, has said that despite the purchase by Roberts it is still interested in buying Bath FM on a stand-alone basis.
Its CEO Gary Cottier-Jansen said it would will launch a digital radio service for Bath in the next six months, even if it is not able to acquire Bath FM but said of the Roberts deal, "We were unwilling to buy a large group of loss-making radio stations" adding, "We could have turned Bath FM around into a profitable sustainable business primarily because there is a huge amount of interest from advertisers and listeners."
In other UK radio business news The Scotsman reports that UTV has now put up for sale its loss-making Edinburgh station Talk107. The station was launched in February 2006 as the UK's first commercial talk-only radio station outside London but despite hiring big-name presenters failed to bring in the ratings.
The paper quoted a UTV spokesman as saying, "We are looking to sell the business as a going concern. There were 15 applications for the original licence in 2004, so it is obviously popular and we are hopeful of finding a buyer."
It adds that earlier this year UTV was reporting losses of GBP 600,000 ( USD 980,00) for the station which in recent ratings had a listenership of 228,000 hours a week, down from 300,000 in July.
Previous Laser Broadcasting:
The Scotsman report:
2008-10-29: New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo may target Arbitron executives over recent stock sales according to a Wall Street Journal blog that says he would use a 1921 New York law, the Martin Act, in any action.
The law, says the paper, spells out a broad definition of securities fraud and can be used to pursue civil and criminal penalties, and it adds that Cuomo is investigating Arbitron to see if executives improperly sold stock ahead of news that hurt the company's share price.
Cuomo was already targeting Arbitron over its introduction of Portable People Meter ratings and the company slapped him in the face over his action by bringing forward their introduction earlier this month (See RNW Oct 6).
The WSJ says that Cuomo's office is looking at whether the executives continued to issue positive statements about the system and sold stock before announcing that the company would push back the introduction of the PPM in several big cities: It quoted Cuomo spokesman Alex Detrick as saying in a prepared statement. "The review is in its early stages and any allegations of insider trading should be taken as only that - just allegations. It remains to be seen where the facts will lead."
Wall Street Journal report:
2008-10-28: The BBC is coming under increasing pressure to take action against broadcasters Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross following the crude remarks they left on actor Andrew Sachs' answer phone and broadcast, including a comment by Ross that Brand had "fucked" the actor's granddaughter followed by further calls from the duo.
UK media regulator Ofcom has now confirmed that it is to launch an investigation into the calls and the BBC says that the number of complaints received had more than doubled from 4,700 this morning to more than 10,000 by early evening.
It added that the BBC Trust, which oversees the corporation, was waiting for a report that had been requested by its editorial standards committee from BBC management "before commenting further" and also referring to being able to avoid "prejudice to any complaints it might receive in due course." The Trust is to consider the matter at its regular meeting on Nov 20, due to be attended by Director-general Mark Thompson.
British prime Minister Gordon Brown and opposition leader David Cameron have also become involved in the row with Brown telling journalists following a meeting with French president Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris, "This is clearly inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour, as is now widely recognised" and adding, "Ofcom have said they will investigate the matter and it is for the BBC, the BBC Trust and Ofcom to take any appropriate action."
Cameron had earlier said the BBC should release details of how the urged the BBC to reveal how the pre-recorded programme was allowed to go on air and know who was responsible to approving it. (RNW note: The direct line of responsibility would be the producer of Brand's show, Nic Philps, but a senior executive is said to have clear this particular broadcast).
Senior BBC management had steered clear of making comments until today but the Corporation's director of audio and music Tim Davie in an interview on the Radio 4 PM programme (around 17 minutes into the stream) said the corporation did "offer an unreserved apology we do realize that this was an unacceptable broadcast. I think that we recognise and totally understand the reaction to this" but when pressed about action said he had asked "personally for an investigation" but "clearly in this instance we need to find out the facts and calmly look into what happened."
Asked if heads would roll, he said, "It's too early to jump to exactly the actions we can take on this."
Around 42 minutes into the programme it carried a report on reactions, starting off with the few comments it had received in defence of Brand - the introduction said that in more than 99% of cases of comments it had received there was "something akin to outrage and disgust" but that responses to BBC Radio 1 ran two-to-one in favour of Brand with the most common line in his defence being that it was funny.
It then carried a few of the comments it had received defending the duo before moving on to critical comments, one of which put part of the blame on Sachs and his agent, asking if the actor and his agent had been unaware of the nature of the Brand show [RNW comment: We suspect Sachs was indeed unaware and that the same applied to many others with the result that most of those who have found the comments offensive would only have become aware of them when they gained publicity and were aired again on UK radio and TV bulletins.)
The incident is continuing to get attention from many British newspapers and also politicians: John Whittingdale, chairman of the UK Parliament's Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee, told BBC Radio Five Live that the incident raised "far more serious questions about the controls in place to stop this kind of thing happening and the BBC needs to look at that to ensure it can't occur."
He added, "This was a programme that was pre-recorded and was listened to and we're told that editorial staff had decided that it was suitable for broadcast. That does seem to be utterly extraordinary - I cannot see how the controls could've broken down so badly and this is something the BBC needs to look into."
He then went on to comment on the large amounts paid to the broadcasters, saying, "The BBC needs to think about whether they want to go on spending this amount of money on individuals who are repeatedly found to be in breach of what are universally held as the acceptable standards of broadcasting. (RNW Note: Ross is reputed to be paid around GBP 6 million - USD 9.4 million - a year by the BBC for his radio and TV work with Brand getting around GBP 200,000 - USD 330,000 - a year for his radio show)."
In the Daily Mail, whose Sunday sister paper splashed the story at the weekend, he was quoted as further commenting, "Particularly in the case of Jonathan Ross, there have been a whole series of incidents where he has breached the rules and I think the BBC need to think about whether they wish to be in this market still. And if they do wish to continue to produce programmes of this kind they do need to put in place stronger controls, particularly for stars who command such huge amounts of licence fee payers' money
Others went further including mediawatch-uk, the pressure group which campaigns for "decency and accountability" in the media: It called for Brand and Ross to be removed from broadcasting while the BBC investigated the incident.
Yet others are calling for the duo to be sacked including former shadow home secretary David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth and Paul Farrelly, Labour MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Davies told the Daily Mail that the pair should be sacked immediately, adding, "In no other organisation, paid for by the taxpayer or otherwise, would you be able to get away with behaving like this. These two men are paid millions - from our pockets - and they think it is entertaining to call up a pensioner and shout lewd, disgusting things about his granddaughter down the phone. I do not understand how anyone can claim it is funny or entertaining to do that to an elderly man."
Farrelly told the paper, 'Russell Brand should be sacked and the BBC's editorial standards team should be hauled over the coals as well. How could this have been given the green light to go out on air?'
Sachs told the paper he had received "' a very contrite letter from Jonathan Ross making no excuses for his behaviour" and went on, "I haven't heard from Russell Brand directly.'
'They apologise to me and they say how awful for Mr Sachs, but nobody has offered any apology to my grand-daughter. I replied to Jonathan Ross and suggested that is where he should direct his attentions."
He added, "The real focus should be on the harm they have done to her" but said he had not spoken to his granddaughter, who is working abroad, since the row, and of the allegations that she had slept with Brand said, "'It's not for me to know these things but, of course, I would be horrified."
He did not join in the calls for dismissal, saying, "That's up to some people, I don't want any kind of revenge."
RNW note: Most BBC radio news and current affairs programmes including the Radio 4 Today, World at One, PM, and World Tonight programmes have carried reports on the row.
Previous Brand & Ross:
UK Daily Mail report:
2008-10-28: Mexican Radio Group Grupo Radio Centro, S.A.B. de C.V. has reported third quarter revenues this year up 15.1% on a year earlier to MXN 201.892 million (USD 15.15 million), mainly put down to increased advertising revenues, helped says the company by offering attractive sales packages and an increase in its sales force. For the first nine months revenues are up 11.1% to MXN 503.763 million (USD 37.81 million).
Expenses were also up but by less and operating income was up 23.2% for the quarter to MXN 76.477 million (USD 5.74 million) for the quarter and up for the nine months to MXN 142.479 million (USD 10.69 million) : Net income before taxes was up 27.1% for the quarter to MXN 60.235 million (USD 4.52 million) with net income up 31.4% to MXN 42.822 million (USD 3.21 million) whilst for the nine months operating income rose 40.3% to MXN 101.530 million (USD 24.11 million) with net income up 51.3% to MXN 60.072 million (USD 25.70 million).
Previous Grupo Radio:
2008-10-28: International satellite radio operator WorldSpace has announced that it has received a delisting notice from the NASDAQ stock market and that it expects that its stock will cease to be listed at the opening of business on Oct. 30, 2008.
NASDAQ has the discretion concerning listing of companies that have filed for bankruptcy protection as WorldSpace did earlier this month (See RNW Oct 17) and it additionally noted that the Company's market value of listed securities for 10 consecutive trading days had fallen been below the minimum USD 50,000,000 requirement for continued inclusion.
WorldSpace says it does not intent to appeal the delisting.
2008-10-27: Arbitron says a ruling by the United States District Court, Southern District of New York rejecting its attempt to block a lawsuit over its Personal People Meter (PPM) ratings methodology does not "impact" its tight to publish PPM "audience estimates in New York."
In the ruling U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said the lawsuit by NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office raised "important state interests" and allowed it to go ahead.
Arbitron had launched its action to obtain a restraining order and preliminary injunction against the Cuomo action on Oct 6 (See RNW Oct 6) but then faced similar action from the New Jersey State Attorney General's office: Like New York New Jersey is alleging fraud and deceptive practices by Arbitron (See RNW Oct 10) and Arbitron sought a similar restraining order and injunction against New Jersey.
In its statement Arbitron said, "Today's ruling does not impact Arbitron's right to publish our Portable People Meter audience estimates in New York. We asked the federal court to protect our right to provide the radio industry with the up-to-date PPM audience estimates it needs. Following our efforts, the New York Attorney General chose not to seek a temporary restraining order adversely impacting our right to produce PPM estimates."
It then added, "Now that Arbitron has commercialized the PPM service in New York and other key markets, we look forward to defending our interests. Broadcasters, agencies, and advertisers need continual PPM audience estimates if radio is to remain competitive in an increasingly complex and crowded media marketplace."
RNW comment: Although in strict linguistic terms the Arbitron statement is correct, the ruling surely does potentially impact on the company as opposed to its right to publish PPM figures.
It would equally be strictly true that its right to publish would not be impacted were a court to fine it a billion dollars each time it published the figures but the company would certainly be "impacted" and it may yet be "impacted", albeit not to the extent we have just dreamed up, by court rulings on the suits by New York and New Jersey.
2008-10-27: Interep, which on Friday was granted an emergency motion to move from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy to Chapter 7, allowing it to liquidate (See RNW Oct 24), will have at least another week of operations following a decision by Federal bankruptcy trustee Kenneth Silverman to keep the company operating for at least this week as he evaluates the options available to maximize its value.
Interep had been unable to finance a re-organization plan that had been agreed by the court in May and over recent years lost a number of major clients to Clear Channel-owned rival Katz including Citadel (See RNW Mar 31), Emmis (See RNW Oct 2, 2007), Cumulus (See RNW Dec 9, 2006 and May 25, 2005) and Radio One Inc. (See RNW Sep 7, 2005).
Its most important remaining client was CBS Radio with others listed on its site including Beasley Broadcast Group, Entercom, and Spanish Broadcasting System.
They and its other clients, mainly in medium and smaller markets, although some own major market stations, either have to move to Katz or make their own arrangements and Silverman will have to move fairly speedily to re-assure them and keep Interep staff if he is to raise any significant amounts for the company as its assets are mainly in the contracts and its people - it did note in its petition to move to Chapter 7 that there could be some money in subletting some of its property leases.
Apart from Katz, however, which could pick up some of Interep clients and staff, a there are not that many options for those clients in the current economic climate -
CBS Radio may also have been affected directly by the Interep move: It made a filing with the bankruptcy court saying that it had learned that payments for its airtime bought through Interep and which are supposed to have been held in trust under its contract, may have been used by Interep without it consent. CBS sought an order that Interep abide by the contract terms and provide an immediate accounting of CBS's funds.
2008-10-27: The BBC, which has now received more than 550 complaints following the Mail on Sunday story about lewd comments recorded on actor Andrew Sachs' answer phone by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross and broadcast in the former's show (See RNW Oct 26) has now belatedly apologized to the actor. It has also launched a review of the procedures that allowed the pre-recorded show to make it to air with the comments included.
In a statement the BBC said, "We have received a letter of a complaint from Mr Sachs' agent and would like to sincerely apologizeto Mr Sachs for the offence caused. We recognize that some of the content broadcast was unacceptable and offensive. We are reviewing how this came about and are responding to Mr Sachs personally. We also apologizeto listeners for any offence caused."
RNW comment: It would in our view be most unjust were production staff involved in clearing this broadcast, deserving of censure though they are in our view, were to end up as scapegoats whilst the much more highly paid broadcasters - the Brand show is produced by his own company - escape action that in terms of their take-home remuneration is less serious. If staff are to be fired or pushed into resignation, the duo should also be dropped (we're certain they'll gain other work but equally certain the pay would be much less) or should lesser action such as suspension be taken against the production staff equivalent action (in terms of financial impact as a percentage of pay or in terms of duration as in suspension of their programmes for the same period as suspension as staff) should follow.
We would also, since the broadcast was made a week ago, expect any action to go up as a very minimum to the level of Lesley Douglas, Controller BBC Popular Music, Radio 2 & 6-Music (Unless, of course, she has been off ill and thus not doing her job for an unavoidable reason.).
RNW update: This story was prominent on BBC radio news bulletins today and when we last checked the number of complaints were around 1,600. Virtually nobody in the comments we heard or reports and blogs we checked was defending Brand or Ross (The UK Media Guardian blog runs to five pages of comments, nearly all critical and many more so of Ross than Brand; and the BBC Radio 4 World Tonight carries a news report - some 5 mins in on the show - supplemented by a feature (link is to item audio) towads the end of it featuring former BBC Panorama editor Steve Hewlett and Larry Johnson. president of North American radio for Paragon Media Strategies discussing this incident and US "shock jocks." As for BBC Radio 2, the row isn't listed in the top five messageboards topics on the site.
2008-10-26: Last week saw Australia for once with the most important regulatory posting - a proposal by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to amend the original specifications for digital radio, which is to launch next year, primarily to allow a maximum ERP of 50 kW as opposed to the 12.5 kW originally proposed (See RNW Oct 25).
The ACMA also found that two community radio stations had breached their licence conditions by broadcasting adverts.
In Victoria it found that Ballarat community radio station 3BBB, Ballarat, breached conditions of its licence that prohibit broadcasting of advertisements and the broadcasting of sponsorship announcements that run in excess of five minutes per hour.
The station it said had also failed to include tags in relation to two pre-recorded announcements for financial sponsors broadcast in April this year and in addition it found two instances where comments made by presenters live on-air were advertisements.
It noted that this is the second breach of the advertising prohibition this year but added that the earlier investigation had not been completed at the time the broadcasts that led to the latest complaint were aired so there was no opportunity for 3BBB to demonstrate that measures implemented following the first breach had taken effect.
It therefore opted to take no further action in relation to this latest finding but warned that future breaches could attract sanctions.
In New South Wales it found that Port Stephens community radio 2PSR has breached the same regulation and had also failed to tag four announcements in June and July this year. It notes that in response to its investigation the station implemented a number of administrative procedures to ensure compliance with licence conditions and said that in the light of these and because this was the first breach of the conditions by 2PSR it was to take no further action.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is to make public aggregate financial data for various groups that it has listed in a public notice covering large broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs), multi-system operators (MSOs) and over-the-air (OTA) television and radio ownership groups.
Under its current policy the annual return information from these organizations - which includes such radio operators as Astral Media Inc.; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Societé Radio-Canada; Corus Entertainment Inc.; CTVglobemedia Inc.; Newcap Inc.; and Rogers Communications Inc. - is treated as confidential.
The agency says its policy was established at a time when the broadcast environment was characterized by a larger number of smaller, locally based owners such that disclosure might prejudice a smaller undertaking's ability to compete and contribute positively to the broadcasting system but that nowadays increased consolidation in the broadcasting industry has resulted in a relatively small number of large multi-station ownership groups, most of whom also control a significant number of pay and specialty services.
It therefore requested comments from a number of industry parties on the potential impact of disclosing the annual returns for large OTA television and radio ownership groups in aggregate form and notes that none were in favour. It subsequently discussion at the Diversity of Voices Proceeding posted a public notice calling for comments from the public on its plans to disclose aggregated information from large ownership groups of financial summaries for OTA broadcasters; overall contributions to Canadian content development by radio; and Canadian programming expenditure data subdivided by program category for OTA television.
The Commission in the notice rejects the arguments against the change, commenting that it is now convinced, based on the comments received at the proceedings on the Diversity of Voices and the BDU regulatory frameworks, that the public disclosure of the aggregate financial data of both large BDUs and/or MSOs and large OTA television and radio broadcasters by ownership group would serve the public interest and would be valuable for parties interested in submitting comments to the various Commission hearings and proceedings.
As far as OTA broadcasting is concerned it says it will disclose information on the returns down to and including profit before interest and taxes (PBIT) - aggregated separately where a group has both radio and TV interests and by English and French language services - of large OTA television and radio broadcasting ownership groups, including the CBC and Société Radio-Canada./
It will however treat as confidential returns where disclosure of a group's aggregate annual return would result in the disclosure of the financial results of an individual OTA television or radio undertaking or any portion of the annual return that would lead to the disclosure of a licensee's aggregated net income or loss, such as information below PBIT or detailed information on shareholders' equity.
The CRTC says it will also continue its current practice of releasing aggregated industry statistics for both television and radio on a regional and national basis.
The companies concerned, which have been listed, will have to file their aggregated annual return forms with the Commission each year by 30 November beginning this year.
The CRTC also posted a number of radio licensing decisions including the following (In order of province)
*Denied application by Russ Wagg, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated for a 50 watts English-language easy listening music format low-power commercial FM on Quadra Island, although its studio and transmitter would be in Campbell River.
Concerns had been expressed the potential economic impact of the proposed station on existing stations in the Campbell River market and the station was opposed in interventions by the Bute Inlet Development Corporation (BIDC), the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) and Vista Radio Ltd. (Vista).
The CAB said the station's signal, whilst covering the Campbell River radio market, would barely reach Quadra Island and also expressed a concern relating to the applicant "potentially using low-power radio as an opportunity to enter the broadcasting system 'through the back door,' with few regulatory obligations carried by private radio commercial radio operators.".
The CRTC agreed with the concerns about the impact on existing stations and "back-door" entry into the market and refused the application.
*Approved application by Vista Radio Ltd. to relocate the transmitter of CHNV-FM, Nelson, increase its antenna height and increase its power from 84 watts to 1,100 watts.
*Approved application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to change the frequency of its transmitter CBZW-FM Woodstock from 91.9 MHz to 95.3 MHz: The change was requested to reduce the possibility of interference with its French-language FM transmitter CBAF-FM-21, Bon Accord, which will operate at 91.7 MHz when in operation.
*Approval of application by Bluewater Community Radio to relocate the transmitter of English-language Type B community station CFBW-FM, Hanover, and increase its antenna height.
*Approval as part of an intra-corporate reorganization the acquisition by Northwoods Broadcasting Limited from Fawcett Broadcasting Limited - a wholly-owned subsidiary - of the assets of CFOB-FM, Fort Frances; CJRL-FM, Kenora; CKDR-FM, Dryden; CKDR-2-FM, Sioux Lookout and its transmitters CKDR-1, Ignace, CKDR-3, Hudson and CKDR-6, Atikokan ; as well as CKDR-5-FM, Red Lake, and its transmitter CKDR-4, Ear Falls. The effective control of the stations will not be changed by the re-organization that will be completed through the wind-up of the assets of Fawcett into Northwoods.
There were no radio decisions from Ireland or the UK, albeit we now expect many complaints to Ofcom concerning the lewd messages broadcast on the Russell Brand show earlier this month (See below) but in the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was involved in a number of enforcement actions including (in reducing amount order) the following radio related penalties or proposed penalties:
*Denied Petition for Reconsideration filed by Christian Voice of Central Ohio, Inc., licensee of formerly non-commercial educational station WCVZ-FM, South Zanesville, Ohio, of a May 9, 2008, Forfeiture Order in which the Enforcement Bureau (imposed a USD 9,000 forfeiture against Christian Voice for its wilful and repeated broadcast of advertisements.
Christian Voice had argued that the Bureau committed legal error by misapplying applicable precedent in reaching its legal conclusions but, says the agency, appears to concede that it violated our underwriting rules, but argues that the forfeiture imposed is not commensurate with past enforcement actions for similar violations.
Rejecting the application the FFC said no new evidence had been presented and Christian Voice had merely re-iterated its previous arguments: It re-confirmed the penalty.
*Denied Petition for Reconsideration filed by Brahmin Broadcasting Corporation licensee of station KRAE-AM, Cheyenne, Wyoming, of USD 4,200 forfeiture for failure to enclose the KRAE antenna tower within an effective locked fence or other enclosure.
The FCC had already reduced the penalty from USD 7,000 initially proposed to USD 5,600 on the basis of efforts made to remedy the fault prior to the FCC inspection and then further reduced it to USD 4,200 on the basis of a history of compliance.
Brahmin had requested reconsideration because the Brahmin employee responsible for the KRAE tower site underwent surgery around the same time that the KRAE fence fell into disrepair but the FCC dismissed this argument and confirmed the USD 4,200 penalty.
*Issued USD 3,000 forfeiture each to Luis A. Meija and MSG Radio, Inc. for failure to provide required information on their application for the assignment of license of station WIAC-FM, San Juan, Puerto Rico. The two parties had applied for approval of the sale of the station licence, call sign, books, and records plus goodwill by Meija to MSG for USD 4 million in August last year but in their filing said they had not submitted copies of all agreements for the sale of the Station, which would reflect a complete and final understanding between the licensee and assignee: Excluded was a schedule regarding "excluded assets" that the parties said contained "proprietary information not germane to Commission consideration of the application.
The FCC had then received a permission to deny the application on the basis that the parties in their purchase agreement had included an Asset Purchase Agreement (the "Bestov-Madifide APA") between Bestov Broadcasting Inc. of Puerto Rico ("Bestov" - which is wholly owned by Meija) and Madifide, Inc. ("Madifide"); and an undated Shared Services Agreement (the "MSG-Madifide SSA") between MSG and Madifide.
Madifide, said the petitioners, could not acquire an attributable interest in the station as it already owned the maximum number of stations allowable in the Puerto Rico Arbitron Market.
The FCC then asked the parties for further details receiving copies of the APA - under which Bestov proposed to sell Madifide tangible and intangible assets associated with the leases for the studio, office, and transmitter facilities needed to operate the Station for a total price of USD 12.5 million; the SSA- in which Madifide would provide MSG with access to the station's studio and tower. However, the MSG-Madifide SSA excluded the sharing of other services including accounting, programming and sales; and also a non-finalized, non-executed Option Agreement under which MSG would extend to Madifide a two-year irrevocable option to purchase the Station license when qualified to do so under FCC rules and policies.
The FCC on the basis of these documents held that the APA and SSA should have been supplied with the application and issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture to each party in the sum of USD 3,000O it dismissed the arguments filed in response to this and confirmed the full penalties.
The Commission has also denied an application by Florida-based attorney John B. Thompson for review of the Enforcement Bureau's earlier rejection (See RNW Jun 7, 2007) of his complaint against Beasley Broadcast Group that alleged that the broadcaster had had engaged in improper conduct by retaliating against him for filing indecency complaints with the Commission against some of Beasley's radio stations.
Rejecting Thompson's application the FCC said he had still has failed to present any evidence to substantiate his claims that Beasley engaged in improper conduct against him in retaliation for the filing of indecency complaints.
In various radio licensing decisions the FCC:
*Announced that it was ready to grant a further Construction Permit related to its FM Auction 62: The permit in question is for a station n Talent, Oregon.
*Denied a petition from Community Religious Broadcasting, Inc. (CRB) seeking reconsideration of dismissal of an application for a new non-commercial educational FM in Bemidji, Minnesota.
CRB had filed an application to construct the station in February 2000 and this remained pending during an NCE licensing freeze the commission imposed in April that year. A new filing window was opened in October 2007 and organizations with pending proposals had to electronically amend their applications to include comparative information and specifically told that failure to do this would lead to "its dismissal with prejudice" of the application. CRB failed to amend its application by the close of the NCE filing window and its application as therefore dismissed.
CRB requested reconsideration and asked the FCC to accept its late-filed amendment filed on November 28, 2007, and reinstate its application, an action it said would not affect other parties or give it a comparative points advantage over any other applicant but the FCC said CRB had failed to provide any compelling explanation for its neglect to amend its application. It dismissed the petition.
ACMA web site:
Previous Licence News:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
2008-10-26: A row has blown up over obscene phone calls made by BBC Radio 2 hosts Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross on Brand's show a week ago in which the pair left messages on the answer phone of 78-years-old actor Andrew Sachs relating to claims that Brand had sex with his granddaughter Georgina.
The BBC (which presumably employs staff unable to listen to the audio of this week's show - link is to MP3 of Brand "apology" yesterday , which is still online, or understand dictionary definitions) carries a story on its web site saying Brand had apologised for the stunt.
In fact Brand around seven minutes into his show yesterday said, " I'd like to take this opportunity to issue a personal Russell Brand apology to Andrew Sachs, the great comic actor who played Manuel for a message that Jonathan and I left on his answer phone but it was quite funny. But sometimes you mustn't swear on someone's answer phone. That's why I'd like to apologize personally. What do you think about that Simon? Diplomatic wasn't it?" and then a little later went on, "I'd like to remind the Daily Mail that er whilst it's a bit bad to leave a swear word on Andrew Sachs' answer phone what's worse? Leaving a swear word on Andrew Sachs' answer phone or tacitly supporting Adolf Hitler when he began, when he took charge of the Third Reich "
Shortly afterwards he made further comments in which he again made a faux apology, and again drew attention to the Mail's support for Hitler and fascism in the 1930s. (The paper changed its views after the Nazis invaded Prague in 1939.)
A report in the Mail on Sunday report had been strongly critical of Brand and Ross: it noted that amongst other comments left on Sachs' phone one from Ross in which he said "He fucked your granddaughter" - this was followed by giggles from Brand and Ross and a later call in which Brand sang an impromptu song including the words, "I said some things I didn't of oughta, like I had sex with your granddaughter, though it was consensual . . . it was consensual lovely sex. It was full of respect, I sent her a text, I've asked her to marry me, Andrew Sachs."
It also carried details of other comments made and noted a previous incident in which in 2006 Brand became embroiled in a public row with Rod Stewart after boasting at an awards ceremony that he had slept with the rocker's daughter, Kimberly.
The show was pre-recorded and the podcast of an hour from its 2-hour of airtime included the Ross and Brand comments cum song (links on their names are to short MP3 excerpts) and the paper reported that the BBC had said that "a senior editorial figure signed off the programme, including its strong language, before it was broadcast."
It notes that under British law anyone found guilty of making malicious or abusive phone calls can be fined or sentenced to up to six months in prison, although a Scotland Yard spokesman said there was no record of Sachs filing a complaint.
It quoted a spokesman for the actor, who still regularly works for the BBC, as saying, "Andrew is deeply upset by this and terribly hurt. He can't understand why it happened and was particularly sorry that they kept leaving messages on his answer phone."
RNW comment: As we find both Brand and Ross puerile rather than amusing and good reasons to turn off or switch to another channel we start from the point that our view is that the preferable place for both would be working at menial tasks. As we find the BBC well worth preserving, however, we can only hope that this exchange prompts some re-thinking about the overpayment made to each of them.
As to legal action over the calls, six months would be over severe but we rather think it would be to the benefit of society in general and the BBC in particular if a complaint got them each a couple of weeks in jail and this then enabled their contracts to be re-written - pay about a tenth of what it is now (Ross is reported to be paid around GBP 6 million - USD 9.5 million a year - for his BBC radio and TV work and Brand is rumoured to be paid around GBP 1 million - USD 1.6 million a year for his radio work) with a claw-back clause of around half that if they can't raise the level of their comments above those to be expected of a sniggering 13-years-old boy would seem about right.
Mail on Sunday report:
2008-10-25: The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has put out a call for comment on proposals that will increase the coverage that planned digital radio services are able to achieve in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney when they commence next year.
The proposals were put forward following the expression of concerns about the original plan by Australia's radio industry and are contained in draft variations to the digital radio channel plans for the five capital cities released by the ACMA.
In all cases the proposals include an increase in the power over some bearings or sectors to a new maximum of 50 kW ERP: Under the initial plans the maximum was 12.5 kW and the increased level should significantly improve in-building signal coverage.
Digital radio in Australia will initially operate in the in the VHF Band III (174 - 230 MHz), although the use of additional spectrum such as L-band (1452 - 1492 MHz) or 'channel 13' (230 - 240 MHz) has not been ruled out and the ACMA comments that it is therefore preferable that receivers can tune to these additional frequency bands. Australia is to launch its service using DAB+ whose more efficient coding approximately triples the number of channels that can be carried of the same quality within allocated spectrum.
2008-10-24: Interep, the largest radio rep company in the US, seems set to close following an emergency motion to convert the Chapter 11 bankruptcy it entered in March into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which would mean the liquidation of its assets to pay creditors.
The move would leave Clear Channel-owed Katz as the only significant US national radio rep firm and CBS Radio without national sales representation. It said in a statement, "We are looking at alternative national sales representation strategies. We'll have something to announce in the near future."
Crain's New York Business, which noted that calls to the company's offices were not returned, added that a bankruptcy court in May had approved a reorganization plan for the company and a USD50 million loan backed by its principal debt-holders, which included Oaktree Capital Management: Oaktree subsequently said it would not take over Interep, pushing it into Chapter 7 bankruptcy and liquidation.
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-10-24: Toronto-headquartered Corus Entertainment has reported a "strong" fiscal 2008 to the end of August with net income up 21.3% to CAD 129.8 million (USD 101.7 million - up from CAD 1.27 per basic share and CAD 1.23 per diluted share to CAD 1.57 per basic and CAD 1.54 per diluted share) and consolidated profit up 5% to CAD 252.1 million (USD 197.5 million) on revenues up 2% to CAD 787.2 million (USD 616.6 million)
Corus noted that its bottom line benefited from CAD 23.6 million (USD 18.5 million) in recoveries related to income tax changes, and was reduced by an accrual of CAD 10.9 million (USD 8.5 million) related to disputed regulatory fees
Within the figures Corus TV revenues were up 3% to CAD 450.2 million (USD 352.7 million) with profit up 5% to CAD 191.8 million (USD 150.3 million); radio revenues were up 4% to CAD 286.4 million (USD 224.4 million) with profit down 3% to CAD 75.5 million (USD 59.2 million); and Content revenues were down 15% to CAD 52.0 million (USD 40.74 million) but profit was up 32% to CAD 7.2 million (USD 5.6 million).
Corus noted that during the year it purchased for cancellation 4,388,400 Class B Non-Voting Shares at an average price of CAD 20.84 per share and that in September this year a further 660,466 Class B Non-Voting Shares were purchased and cancelled at an average price of CAD 19.34 per share.
Fourth quarter revenues were down 1% to CAD 185.8 million (USD 145.6 million) and net income down 17.9% to CAD 17.4 million (USD 13.6 million - from CAD 0.25 per basic and diluted share to CAD 0.21 per basic and diluted share) although segment profit was up 2% to CAD 4.2 million.
Within the figures, TV revenues were up 1% on the previous final quarter to CAD 104.8 million (USD 82.1 million) and segment profit was up 5% to CAD 35.7 million ( USD 28.0 million); radio revenues were up 3% to CAD 68.5 million (USD 53.7 million) with segment profit down 13% to CAD 15.1 million (USD 11.8 million); and Content revenues were down 27% to CAD 12.8 million (USD 10.0 million) but profit was up 15% to CAD 2.6 million (USD 2.0 million ).
President and CEO John Cassaday said the company "had a strong 2008, growing our revenues and profits as our core businesses continued to perform well," adding, "We have confidence in our continued growth, particularly within specialty and pay TV with the addition of Cosmopolitan TV, VIVA and HBO Canada to our portfolio."
Executive chair Heather Shaw added, "We are proud of our fiscal 2008 results. Strong operating results, a 20% dividend increase, our share-buybacks and our upcoming Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP) have provided solid value to our shareholders."
2008-10-24: GMG Radio chief executive, John Myers, is stepping down next year at the age of 50 and will be succeeded by his deputy, Stuart Taylor, according to the UK Guardian, which is owned by the same parent.
Myers launched GMG Radio a decade ago having worked for the BBC and various commercial radio companies. He began his radio career in 1980 with BBC Radio Cumbria then moved to host shows on Red Rose and Radio Tees. After a spell as programme controller and breakfast host for Red Rose Gold as well as working for Border TV, he launched CFM (Carlisle), as managing director of Border Radio Holdings in 1993.
Moving to North-East England he launched Century Radio, hosting the breakfast show there under the pseudonym John Morgan, and he then launched Century stations in the East Midland and North West England, a launch that was followed in a BBC documentary that caught the eye of then GMG chief executive Robert Phillis (later knighted) who enlisted him set up GMG radio.
Myers became GMG radio managing director in 1999 and when Real Radio was launched in Wales in 2000 again hosted the breakfast show under the name John Morgan. Under him the group has grown to include the Smooth Radio, Real Radio, Century Radio and Rock Radio brands.
Myers is to remain an advisor to GMG Radio and commented, "It has been a great privilege and pleasure to lead GMG's radio business for the last decade, which has been one of excitement, expansion - and tremendous fun. After 30 years in the industry, I feel it's the right time to take a step back from the day-to-day running of the business and move into semi-retirement. "
Of his successor, GMG Radio's deputy chief executive and a former commercial director of sister company Guardian News & Media, he commented, I'm particularly pleased that, because of our careful succession planning, I am able to hand over the reins to a brilliant chief executive who already knows the business inside out. Stuart is a superb operator and I know that GMG Radio can look forward to continued success under his leadership."
Guardian Media Group chief executive Carolyn McCall commented, "John has been a great leader of our radio business. Over the last 10 years he has built the company up from scratch, winning licences, launching stations and acquiring new assets. He has made an immense contribution to the success of GMG Radio, and we look forward to continuing to work with him in his advisory capacity. Stuart is among the industry's most highly rated and respected executives, and it is testament to the calibre of the team that we are able to appoint such a successor from within the business."
The Guardian also reported on Myers' views on the future of UK commercial radio, particularly in relation to digital audio broadcasting (DAB) whose future he though would be decided over the next six months.
He said of Channel 4's decision to pull out that "Everyone knew it wasn't going to happen except Channel 4," adding, "I always said there was more chance of me losing 10 stone than Channel 4 launching, and I still think there is more chance of me losing 10 stone. "They got into it for the right reasons, and I applaud them for that, but they probably hung on for grim death too long after the game was up. But it doesn't mean to say that DAB is dead."
He said that there would, however have to be some re-thinking, commenting that things were at a critical stage and needed a lighter regulatory touch so "radio stations can adapt more quickly without having to go cap in hand to the regulator all the time".
Of DAB he added, "There has to be a rethink about how DAB is going to work. It is a hugely complicated process but I am confident we can find one. Commercial radio has spent over GBP 100 million ( USD 160 million) on DAB so far, so there's a lot of love in the room and desire to make it happen."
Previous Guardian Media Group:
2008-10-24: Erich "Mancow" Muller, who was dropped by Emmis in July 2006 (See RNW Jul 12, 2006) is to start a new morning show in Chicago for Citadel from Monday.
Muller, who will continue to host the syndicated show he has produced - as well as doing commentary for Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" - since he was dropped by Emmis, will replace Jerry Agar on Citadel's WLS-AM.
The Chicago Tribune reported that for his first week he will be paired with Pat Cassidy, who joined WLS from WBBM-AM this summer and quoted Mike Fowler, the station's president and general manager as saying, "It's going to bring a lot of energy to the station. It's a younger version of Rush [Limbaugh], with some Roe Conn thrown in."
Chicago Tribune report:
2008-10-23: As seemed almost inevitable in the current economic circumstances, the NASDAQ stock market has told Radio One Inc. that its Class D stock - some 96% of the total - had as of October 16 fallen below its minimum dollar bid price for 30 days and become non-compliant with its continuing listing requirements.
There was however a silver lining to the cloud - or maybe the term temporary repreive would be better - for Radio One and other radio companies facing de-listing: NASDAQ added that because of the unprecedented turmoil in domestic and world financial markets it had suspend enforcement of the bid price and market value of publicly held shares ("MVPHS") requirements for all of its listed companies through Friday, January 16, 2009 so will not be taking any action this year.
The bid price and MVPHS rules will be reinstated on Monday, January 19, 2009 and the first relevant trade date under the reinstated rules will be Tuesday, January 20, 2009 and accordingly Radio One now has until July 20, 2009, to regain compliance with the rules: This requires the stock to close above a dollar for ten consecutive business days in the period from now until July 20.
Radio One also notes that if the company has not regained compliance it can apply to move the Class D stock from the Global Market to the NASDAQ Capital Market (Approval for this for its Class A stock was given in Aug - See RNW Aug 27) and if this application is approved it will have 180 days to gain compliance while listed on the Capital Market. The notification does not affect the company's Class A shares. Earlier this month Radio One fell out of the Standard and Poors' SmallCap 600 index (See RNW Oct 17)
Previous Radio One Inc:
2008-10-23: Merseyside Travel today named a train after the late British DJ John Peel who died of a hear attack whilst on holiday in Peru in October 2004 (See RNW Oct 27, 2004).
The train was inaugurated in a mid-afternoon ceremony at which Ian Prowse, from Amsterdam performed the song "Does This Train Stop on Merseyside?" at the event in front of guests: Peel had said the song was his second favourite (his favourite single was, 'Teenage Kicks' by The Undertones) and his wife Sheila, who officially launched the "John Peel" train, said of it, "John just loved the song. He always became emotional when he played it. He wasn't capable of playing it without crying. If he played it on the radio he'd have to put something on straight afterwards because he wouldn't be able to speak. When he played it at home, he'd always need a cuddle afterwards. We are just really delighted that John is being honoured with this train. He would have loved it!"
Peel was born in Heswall, The Wirrall, and Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel said: "We are very proud of the man John was and of his connection with Merseyside. Naming this train in his honour is our tribute to a true broadcasting legend."
Neil Scales, Merseytravel's chief executive and director general added, "Having Sheila with us to launch the train makes it that extra bit special. This train will forever be linked to John, a man whose influence on music was, and to some extent still remains, unparalleled."
2008-10-23: Despite its parent's economic woes and Chapter 11 bankruptcy that could potentially lead to its winding up, WorldSpace India Pvt. Ltd. the Indian subsidiary of US-based satellite radio provider WorldSpace Inc., is planning to revamp services in the country according to livemint.com
The re-launched version, to be called 1WorldSpace it says will sport a new logo and its current marketing slogan-So much to hear-will be changed but a new line it still to be decided according to WorldSpace India brand head K.S. Murlidhar
Murlidhar added that the firm is to try and extend its current base of some 200,000 subscribers in India by cutting fees and offering new payment options that include "lifetime prepaid" and instalment plans.
"WorldSpace is much superior in terms of content but customers are not willing to pay INR 1,800 (USD 36 a year) for strictly subscription and then have to deal with technical snags that are common to any satellite-based product," said Murlidhar. "It is typical of Indian consumers who are willing to buy the best brand but not ready to invest in its upkeep. So we decided to tailor our offerings more in line with what people will find feasible."
Regarding the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in the US by the Maryland-based parent he said," "We filed for bankruptcy to be able to access funds for our expansion plans. We also needed to repay debt for which we needed funds. Also by filing for bankruptcy protection, we wanted to thwart any hostile takeover bids."
Livemint added a note of scepticism in quoting Sunil Kumar, managing director at radio business consultancy Big River Radio (India) Pvt. Ltd. who said, "WorldSpace has not been able to maintain high quality content. Yes, they are different from FM as they have little talk and no advertisements but how are they different from an iPod or a personalized playlist?" They need to innovate and offer more surprises to the listener to keep the business going."
RNW comment: Even neglecting past losses- of just under USD 170 million in 2007 and revenues were below USD 14 million - and assuming creditors are prepared to wait a long time to get money back, it's hard to see how this particular business can be turned round in a reasonable time.
Given the effects of current credit tightness, we just don't see how its development plans can attract the funding needed to give them a chance of a success and we doubt that creditors will be that committed to allowing breathing space. Unless there are revenue opportunities that nobody has public thought of so far, we suspect there will be some spare satellites orbiting without a service soon.
2008-10-23: BBC Radio 3 is to launch what it is describing as its most "ambitious year of classical music programming ever" next year including the introduction of programming on its first Composers of the Year.
The composers concerned are Henry Purcell (1659-1695 - two weeks in March and November marking the 350th anniversary of his birth), George Frederick Handel (1685-1759 - a week in April marking the 250th anniversary of his death and to include a special staging of the Messiah at Westminster Abbey), Joseph Haydn (1732-1809- to be launched with a Haydn Day from the European Broadcasting Union on 31 May, the 200th anniversary of his death) and Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847 - in February marking the 200th anniversary of his birth.
Although details are still to be fleshed out, programming will include a complete cycle of Handel's 40-plus operas on Radio 3, broadcast weekly in Afternoon On 3, alongside a complete cycle of Haydn's 104 Symphonies, which neatly fit into the same programme at the rate of two per week during the whole of 2009.
The programming will also build on the station's experience with past events such as its "Beethoven Experience" and "Chopin Experience" with weekend and weeklong programming focussed on the composers. These will include broadcasts of major performances by the leading artists, ensembles, orchestras and opera companies taking place during the year throughout the UK and Europe; specially-staged concerts, features, essays, discussion, dramas, debate, and commissions of new music inspired by them.
BBC Radio 3 Controller Roger Wright said of the plans in a release, "we are thrilled to celebrate the work of these four great composers. By telling their story through the year, and by placing their music in context, we can open up the worlds of much-loved composers to both new and existing listeners alike."
The programming will start on January 5 next year and during the month each of the composers will be the subject of Radio 3's regular Composer Of The Week.
The BBC is also joining forces with the Victoria & Albert Museum and other cultural organisations throughout the UK for Baroque '09, a year of events celebrating Baroque music and spirit inspired by the anniversaries of Handel and Purcell.
2008-10-22: With all the gloom around, we opted this week for a positive look at digital radio, well positive in the UK at least.
There in the wake of the decision of Channel 4 to dump its radio plans (See RNW Oct 10). the consensus of radio columnists was that DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) is, as Paul Donovan in his Sunday Times Radio Waves column put it "here to stay."
Donovan began by noting that the Channel 4 decision to opt out of DAB came only months after Britain's "biggest commercial radio group also abandoned it" and continued, "In addition, four national digital-only stations - Oneword, Core, Life and theJazz - were killed off earlier this year. There is now just one national commercial station, Planet Rock, available only on digital. So, on the face of it, the harbingers of DAB doom are right to give it the black spot."
After commenting on the Channel 4 decision and what it was planning to air he noted that the bottom line is that additional national stations will not now be launched, nor listener choice widen, concluding " and Digital Audio Broadcasting loiters palely as a result. Yet I remain hopeful. Planet Rock may be the only national commercial station available on digital only alone, but there are also five national BBC stations in this position. These are: 1Xtra, 6 Music, Asian Network, Sports Extra, and the splendid BBC7 (which has just changed its name to Radio 7, allegedly because too many people thought it was a television service). The total audience for these six stations is almost 4 million... about the size of the readership of The Sunday Times: not to be sneezed at, in other words. There are also many other digital-only stations not technically national, but widespread and popular. Hundreds of thousands enjoy Gaydar, The Arrow, Chill, Kerrang!, The Hits, Q, Kerrang! and more."
Donovan also notes some other statistics - that more than a quarter of British households now have a DAB radio, more than eight million have been sold - he says this in his view is more than i-Pods albeit he cannot prove it as Apple will not release sales figures - and comments, "Irrespective of whether people listen to commercial output or not, there are millions now who love their DAB radios sets just as high-quality radios and a joy to use."
"People increasingly," he concludes, "listen to radio on digital devices, including computers, mobile phones, Wi-Fi internet radios, DAB sets, and cable, Sky and Freeview television. There is spare capacity on the digital spectrum (still filled by that ancient loop of Wiltshire birdsong), and , if the government really wants to improve the care and education of under-fives, it will give serious consideration to the indomitable children's -radio campaigner Susan Stranks's excellent proposal for Sound Start radio, which is supported by many of the country's top educationalists. One way and or another, I think digital is here to stay."
In the Daily Telegraph its radio columnist Gillian Reynolds penned two articles positive about DAB and digital radio in general.
Her first concerned BBC World Service: Headed, "BBC World Service - a digital radio pioneer", she began by noting the commercial radio companies' decisions regarding digital and then continued, "Channel 4 has abandoned its digital radio plans. This says more about Channel 4's management than it does about digital radio. In other hands digital radio is a success. BBC World Service is a case in point. Digital is transforming it into a new kind of global communicator."
Noting that it had been a "bumpy ride" and the fight to get digital investment at the BBC plus the investment of former GWR chief Ralph Bernard she comments of the World Service and its overall digital output, " when you look at what World Service is doing with digital technology you can see, as well as hear, what can be achieved. This is radio rethought in terms of editorial purpose and technical possibility. It is radio that leaps beyond the set."
"I hear you groan, what's the point?" she continued, but then went on, "The point is that digital makes radio grow."
As an example she gives some details of the BBC's election bus, US08, conceived by World Service radio as a way of gaining coverage of the US elections that was "more representative of the whole country."
The idea ballooned. "The Global Division came on board, plus World News TV, 12 World Service language stations, BBC America and American partner stations. For the past four weeks the bus has been travelling from Los Angeles to New York, via Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania."
And of the result she comments, "You can hear this on the radio. But go on the website and new dimensions add themselves. A map shows you the bus's destinations. Click to find out what's happening to the tyre business in Akron, what ordinary people thought of the big debates. Click for things that inform and expand the news. This is a different kind of radio."
And after comments on US interest in the output she continues, "The whole world has been riding along. Nazes Afros, regional editor of the Asia Pacific region, told me his reporter was explaining in Hindi and Urdu the effects of the financial meltdown. It's been difficult, he added, because there's never a day when there isn't a big story out of Pakistan to cover as well. But it's been worth it, bringing heartland America to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, talking to the Asian diaspora in the USA. It's an astonishing achievement, only made possible by digital technology. BBC World Service, 75 this year, has shown the highway into radio's future."
In her second comment she deals more specifically with the UK and DAB, starting with a reference to the BBC Radio 4 Media Show's cover of the issue - it "gave the full Monty Python dead parrot treatment to digital audio broadcasting." [RNW Note: The BBC keeps podcats of this show online for only seven days but streaming audio is still available of all this month's shows.]
After noting some of the material covered in the programme, she continued, "'Should I buy my mum a digital radio for Christmas?' asked host Steve Hewlett in conclusion. 'No,' roared Fru Hazlitt, the erstwhile commercial radio boss who pulled the plug on DAB on her network earlier this year and whose stations have since been taken over. 'Yes,' murmured Simon Cole, one of the partners in the digital radio consortium from which Channel 4 has lately resigned, 'but make it a multi-platform one.'"
Reynolds then notes that the RAJAR quarterly ratings came out the next day showing that "Ownership of DAB radios has gone up 32 per cent over the past year. All the BBC's digital-only stations, BBC Radio 7, 6Music, 1Xtra and Five Live Sports Extra, had record audience figures. BBC World Service, which is available round the clock on DAB, now reaches 1.36 million UK listeners."
As for the commercial sector: "In commercial radio, 19.4 per cent of adults listen via a digital platform, 9.8 per cent via DAB, 6.8 per cent via digital TV and three per cent through the internet. Absolute, which used to be national station Virgin, claims to lead the field, a third of its listening being via digital platforms. Jazz FM has just made a comeback, solely (if slightly bafflingly) on digital."
She then noted that on the way back from the RAJAR news conference she went into a store to find sets available from GBP 20-30 (Currently around USD 30-50) and concluded "what The Media Show told me was contradicted by the evidence" then continued, "It is also contradicted by my own experience. I started listening to Adam and Joe on Saturday mornings on 6 Music a couple of months ago, haven't stopped, am not likely to. I heard Russell Brand first on 6 Music, followed him to Radio 2, have given up now. He seems to have lost interest, so I have too. Stephen Merchant on 6 Music on Sunday afternoons is as prudent an investment of time as many a Radio 4 Classic Serial. Jarvis Cocker will be sitting in for him next week, and he will certainly be better value than The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe on Radio 4."
She also gave a plug to BBC Radio 7 as it now is - "The true house of treasures is at what used to be called BBC7 but has now become BBC Radio 7. It's odd to think of a service that mostly (but not entirely) consists of old programmes, being so rich and various. But it is, and it is the most successful of the BBC's digital stations. Every quarter its RAJAR ratings have risen. This time last year it had 730,000 listeners, now it has 887,000. I turned to it late on Saturday night. There was Jon Pertwee, dead these 12 years, telling the story of his life and how, when he was in the Navy (working in Intelligence) Jim Callaghan (yes, that Jim Callaghan) was the tea boy, how he got the Doctor Who job, then became Worzel Gummidge and all the time making the audience (and me) laugh a lot."
After that there was time for a hint of criticism: "All, however, is not perfect. When it began, BBC7 had its own children's programmes and they were thoughtful and well made. Now it imports them from the BBC's digital TV channel CBeebies and they are dreadful. Where radio should, as in the Kurt Weill song, speak low, CBeebies shout. They also patronise, confuse and discourage concentration. I note that the RAJAR's report that 72 per cent of children between the ages of 4-14 listen to commercial radio. I hope the BBC understands that's the real threat."
Her report attracted a succinct defence of digital form Pat Roberts who wrote in a posting, "It's obvious to anyone who uses it regularly that digital radio is the future. For a start, there are no tuning problems and the sound quality is always better, unless you're comparing it with a full-on stereo FM receiver/amplifier set. Now we need more content!"
Which seems a good point to move on to just that and listening suggestions: Fortunately thanks to the Internet all the stations - and most of their programming is available online around the world - there are exceptions as with 6-Music and Radio 2's broadcasts of the Dylan Theme Hours from XM Satellite Radio (as was. Now part of Sirius XM) that for rights reasons are only available in the UK.
So to begin with a final UK radio column and suggestions from Chris Campling in his Radio Head column in last Saturday's Times of a dip into the BBC Electric Proms.
He continues Those in search of the full skinny are invited to go to bbc.co.uk/electricproms to plan their listening and viewing pleasure from October 22 to 26, but cherry-picking the concerts provides a couple of mustn't misses - the opening night, for example, comes live from the achingly trendy (or at least it was the last time I wrote the words "achingly trendy") Koko, in West London (Radio 1), with the orchestra-sized conglomeration of musicians called Africa Express, who are bringing the dark continent to the bright lights. I also like the look of the Streets on Thursday (Also Radio 1), not least because Mike Skinner is nowhere near as befuddled as he was a couple of years ago."
And one other suggestion from Campling - "the bliss of hearing Joe Strummer's Last Recorded Concert (Radio 2 last Saturday and on the site until this coming Saturday), in which the phlegm-throttled tones of the late leader of the Clash are to be heard battering their way through such classics as Bank Robber, London's Burning and I Fought The Law.
Continuing with BBC Radio 2 suggestions - and other work has somewhat limited our listening online as opposed to over-the air over the past week - we suggest from Monday the third programme in the four-part "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie... The Louis Jordan Story" - this week it featured recording collaborations with Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, and the biggest sequence of hits for Jordan and his Tympany five; from Tuesday a move away from music to "What Do You Believe" in which John McCarthy, who was held hostage for five years in the Lebanon looks as part of the "Faith in the World week" on the Corporation at why people throughout the centuries have believed in the divine.
Then going to the weekend we suggest Friday and the first of a six-part documentary "The Judy Garland Trail" (18:00 GMT) and following that the opening by Burt Bacharach of this year's BBC Electric Proms at the Roundhouse in London..
On Saturday there's more with "BBC Electric Proms: Saturday... Night Fever" (18:30 GMT) in which to mark the 30th anniversary of Saturday Night Fever topping the charts in the UK, Robin Gibb will perform alongside guest artists including Sam Sparro and Sharleen Spiteri at the Roundhouse."
Moving away from music to current affairs our first suggestion is BBC Radio 4's latest edition of "Analysis" (also available as a podcast). It was on "Dollars and Dominance", a clear exposition of the benefits and disadvantages of being the world's reserve currency. In 1971 when France and later Britain took gold out of US vaults because of dissatisfaction with European policies (President Nixon then ended the policy of backing the dollar with gold - at USD 35 an ounce - the dollar was devalues in gold terms by more than 95% within a decade but being a reserve currency makes it easier for the US to print money than other nations - so log as people don't cash in on the US Treasury promises) it had been possible for the US to say, "It's our currency but it's your problem" but that would no longer be as possible. There is, it seems, a continuing situation of a kind of monetary MAD ((Mutually Assured Deterrence) but the consequences to the US of a stupidly aggressive policy could now be very dire.
Sticking with matters economic for a moment we'd also suggest from Monday on Radio 4 "The Crash: A Walk Through The City "in which City veteran John McLaren visits the Square Mile (London's financial district) to find out how various people from shop owners and cab drivers to the more august to see how they are coping with the current turmoil and Thursday's "The Crash: Alvin Hall's Wall Street Walk" in which Alvin Hall undertakes a similar journey in the Wall Street area.
Then to a fairly strong week for some of the station's regular weekday slots starting with "Book of the Week" - "Searching for Schindler: A Memoir" - Thomas Keneally's account of his discovery of the story of Oskar Schindler, which became the basis for his Booker Prize-winning novel Schindler's Ark and the Oscar-winning film Schindler's List; "The Woman's Hour Drama" - "How Shall I Tell the Dog?" - the story of how Miles Kington given little time to live by his doctors from the cancer (that killed him in January this year) decided to make his cancer 'pay its way' by suggesting increasingly amusing and absurd ideas for a book to his agent Gill. Both are morning programmes with evening repeats.
Then from the afternoons we suggest the 15:30 local (14:30 GMT) half- hour of "The Afternoon Reading" -"Wayfarers All: A Hundred Years of The Wind in the Willows", a series of five stories inspired by the main characters in The Wind in the Willows, the children's classic published a hundred years ago, and the following "America, Empire of Liberty" series (The omnibus edition of this is on |Friday at 21:00 local (20:00 GMT)
Also from Radio 4 we suggest "The News Quiz" (Friday 18:30 local - 17:30 GMT) and, back to music, "The Music Feature" that this week featured Paul Gambaccini exploring in " Stage to Screen: Oh! What a Lovely War" how stage works have been adapted for the cinema.
From BBC World Service we suggest the continuing documentaries (Available as podcasts or a stream) "Is al-Qaeda winning?" and "The My Lai Tapes" plus a dip for those interested in the current economic situation into the daily "World Business Report."
From Radio3 we suggest the usual regular "Essay" slot (23:00 local- 22:00 GMT) that this week is "From Pens to Ploughshares, Michael Cardew in Africa " in which art historian Tanya Harrod recounts how the Arts and Crafts Movement moved over to Africa.
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
UK Telegraph - Reynolds on DAB:
UK Telegraph - Reynolds on World Service digital broadcasts:
UK Times - Campling:
2008-10-22: International satellite radio operator WorldSpace, Inc., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier last week (See RNW Oct 17) has announced that it has received approval of the United States Bankruptcy Court in Delaware for the first part of an interim Debtor-in-Possession (DIP) financing in an amount up to USD 2M.
This it says will enable the Company to meet payroll obligations to critical employees and commence a process to sell the Company or its assets.
It adds that it and intends to seek further approvals in the coming weeks, the Company has commenced a process to market and sell the Company or its assets, or complete an alternative restructuring transaction.
WorldSpace notes that the holders of the Company's existing senior secured and convertible notes have agreed to provide, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, a DIP financing facility of up to USD 13 million for a period of 90 days in order to facilitate a sale transaction.
The Bank Street Group LLC has been appointed as the Company's financial advisor in support of the sale and/or restructuring process and the company has also appointed Robert Schmitz of Quest Turnaround Advisors, LLC as its Chief Restructuring Officer reporting to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Noah Samara to assist the Company through an orderly sale or recapitalization process.
WorldSpace also notes that WorldSpace India, a wholly owned independent business unit operating in the market where most of the Company's customers are located and revenues are generated, has not filed for protection from its creditors and continues its business activities in the ordinary course.
The news boosted the company's stock, which ended Wednesday up 20.8% to 29 cents although the market as a whole fell heavily albeit it compares with a 52-week high of USD 4.62.
2008-10-21: Clear Channel which earlier this year went to law against Tribune Co over its hiring of a number of Clear Channel employees, action which was settled in July (See RNW Jul 23) has now formally announced action to lock in a number of senior programmers with long-term contracts along with a number of promotions..
New long-term deals have gone to Alfredo Alonso, Darren Davis, Clay Hunnicutt, Phil Hunt, Tom Owens, Tom Poleman, Gene Romano and Alan Sledge with promotions for Davis, Hunnicutt, Hunt and Poleman.
Davis, formerly Regional VP of Programming for Clear Channel-Chicago, is promoted to SVP of Programming for the North, South and West, assisting programmers at 148 stations across 25 markets.
Hunnicutt, its VP of Country Programming adds the title SVP of Programming for the eastern region whilst Hunt, formerly Regional Vice President of Programming in Little Rock becomes SVP of Programming for the northeast and central regions, guiding 40 markets and Poleman, SVP of Programming and Marketing for six major stations in New York, becomes SVP of Programming for Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and New York whilst remaining Operations Manager for the Clear Channel New York cluster.
Amongst the others Alonso, who joined the company in 2004 and is its Senior Vice President, Hispanic Radio with responsibility for leading the Spanish-language programming initiatives ; Owens, EVP of Content Development, oversees the acquisition and deployment of talent and other content services, such as the launches of Steve Harvey, Ryan Seacrest, and Sean Hannity and has supervised the rollout of Clear Channel's HD Radio programming; Romano, who was recently promoted to Executive Vice President of Programming, oversees the west major markets and helps coordinate company wide programming initiatives; and SVP Alan Sledge takes responsibility for markets in the South and West Regions.
Commenting on the move in a news release, Clear Channel Radio President and CEO John Hogan, said, "Unique, innovative programming engages our audience and creates long-term loyalty to our station brands and this team is the best in the business. We continue to push the envelope in AM/FM, on-demand, mobile and online content and take an expanded view of radio's audience. This is the team that will lead us into radio's programming future."
Clear Channel had already signed a new five-year deal with Hogan in June (See RNW June 30) and in August it locked-in deals with other members of its executive management team including Evan Harrison, Susan Karis, Mark Kopelman, Gene Romano, Tom Schurr, and George Toulas (See RNW Aug 19).
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-10-21: UK Channel 4 Chief Executive Andy Duncan has told the UK House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee that his company could lose more than GBP 9 million (USD 15 million) from its aborted digital radio bid, saying the losses would be "less than 1% of turnover" (of GBP 945 million this year) although no final figure could yet be given: The UK Guardian says this compares with a figure of GBP 5 million ( USD 8.5 million) previously touted by insiders at the company.
Duncan who said his "personal view is that DAB could have a successful future" said that Channel 4's partners in the venture - Bauer, BSkyB, Carphone Warehouse, UBC Media and UTV - "did not want to launch" their own stations and that this meant the second commercial digital multiplex would not make money. He added that it was now highly unlikely that a new national commercial digital radio station would be launched in the next few years and said Channel4 would not return to DAB (digital Audio Broadcasting).
The Guardian quoted a Channel 4 spokesman as saying after Duncan's testimony, "We were forced to withdraw from radio as we could no longer afford the short-term investment required to break even. In addition the current economic conditions meant there was no longer the opportunity to make money as landlord of the multiplex. However, this was just one of many factors that contributed to our overall decision. We have worked closely with our consortium partners to strengthen DAB and we still believe this represents the strongest platform for digital radio in the future."
There is still no formal word from Channel 4's partners about their plans but the Guardian in another report says that the issue is expected to come up on Friday at the next committee meeting of the UK Digital Radio Working Group (DRWG) although Channel 4 representative and its director of new business and corporate development Nathalie Schwarz may well not attend: The group's chairman Barry Cox, a former Channel 4 chairman, is expected to be present.
It described Channel 4's partners as "said to be privately seething over the broadcaster's decision to abandon the project"
In an interim report in June the DRWG said the should UK stick with Eureka DAB, which it says should become the primary platform for all national, regional and large local services and added that the "aspiration" should be to see migration completed by 2020 although for "smaller local services we recognize that for now analogue still remains the most effective, and cheapest, way of delivering radio to small geographic areas." (See RNW Jun 24). The loss of the second commercial digital multiplex and cutbacks by many commercial groups of their digital radio plans mean that those who have resisted abandonment of analogue radio - they argue amongst other things that the bandwidth given to DAB stations means that FM currently delivers a better audio signal on quality equipment - will have their hand strengthened although a move to DAB+, which Australia is to adopt because of its more efficient use of spectrum, and putting fewer channels into a multiplex would ease the quality concern.
Previous Channel 4:
UK Guardian report re Duncan testimony:
UK Guardian report re DRWG meeting:
2008-10-21: Arbitron has reported third quarter net income marginally down on a year ago at USD 17.0 million compared to USD 17.2 million in Q3 2007 (Up from 58 cents to 63 cents per diluted share) on net revenues up 9.9% to USD 102.5 million. Income from continuing operations was down from USD 17.1 million a year ago to USD 16.9 million.
Costs and expenses were up by 14.5% to USD 72.1 million, primarily put down by the company to planned expenditures for the commercialization of the Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings service: it also noted that share-based compensation was up to USD 2.1 million USD 1.6 million a year ago.
For the first nine months of the year its net income was down 7.3% to USD 33.8 million (Up from USD 1.21 to USD 1.23 per diluted share) on revenues up 6.5% to USD 275.2 million.
Chairman, president and chief executive officer Stephen B. Morris noted that on October 6 "Arbitron commercialized the Portable People Meter radio ratings services in eight new markets, including in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco," adding, "Our priority, as we launch these services, is to continue the help we are giving broadcasters and agencies in their transition to electronic measurement and to maintain advertiser confidence in radio as one of the most effective of all ad media."
He also noted the announcement in the third quarter of "significant quality enhancements to our diary services, including a plan to add cell-phone-only households to the diary sample and to accelerate the development of electronic and online alternatives to the paper and pencil diary for all markets."
Looking ahead the company says it now expects full year revenues from continuing operations to be up by between 8% and 10% with earnings per diluted share likely to be in the lower end of its previous guidance of USD 1.30 to USD 1.44 - the 2007 figure was USD 1.37 per diluted share. It also notes the impact of Hurricane Ike on its Houston operations and litigation over the PPM.
In relation to litigation in New Jersey and New York over the introduction of the PPM, which minority broadcasters have complained affected them adversely, the company noted the litigation against it by the states of New Jersey and New York and its action against them (See RNW Oct 10).
2008-10-20: Westwood One President and CEO Thomas Beusse has been ousted ten months after he joined the company, replacing Peter Kosann (See RNW Jan 10) in a move that seems to indicate that the Gores Group, which is investing USD 100 million in the company is moving to take complete control.
RNW note: The company statement says he "resigned his position to pursue other opportunities."
In a news release the company announced that Rod Sherwood, formerly Gores Group Chief Financial Officer, Operations, who took over as Westwood One CFO from Gary Yusko last month (See RNW Sep 17) will become President; Gary Shoenfeld will become President, Network Division; and Steven Kalin is promoted to President, Metro Networks Traffic Division. The statement did not mention the CEO position but said Sherwood remains Westwood One CFO and will oversee all operations of the Company along with Schoenfeld and Kalin.
Shoenfeld, who had previously been Vice-President Eastern Sales Region for Westwood One, co-founded radio network MediaAmerica in 1987 and served as its President until its acquisition by Jones Media Group in July 1998. He then became the President of Jones MediaAmerica until it was taken over by Triton Radio Network in June (See RNW Jun 20).
Kalin joined Westwood One in July as Chief Operating Officer and will directly oversee the operations of the Metro Networks Traffic Division, including the implementation of the company's recently announced re-engineering plan.
In a news release Mark Stone, Vice Chairman of Westwood One and Senior Managing Director & President, Operations of The Gores Group, said, "These management changes were made to create clear lines of authority and responsibility to drive performance in each of the Network Division and Metro Traffic. These two businesses are the largest players in the industry and require direct oversight- The Network Division is the largest independent provider of radio programming and Metro Traffic is the largest provider of traffic information in the U.S."
Mr. Stone continued, "We are enthusiastic about the same investment thesis that supported our initial $100 million investment in the Company and are pleased to have supported the company financially, strategically and operationally."
Westwood One chairman Norman Pattiz added, "The Board is extremely pleased with this dedicated team of radio industry veterans and experienced executives and our new organizational structure. We are excited that we will be able to leverage Rod Sherwood and Steve Kalin's talents in their new roles and that Gary Schoenfeld has joined the team."
Westwood shares have plummeted since Gores agreed the deal, purchasing 12.5 million shares at USD 1.75 a share in March (See RNW Mar 20) and subsequently buying USD 75 million of newly created 7.50% Series A Convertible Preferred Stock, (sold to to Gores Radio Holdings, LLC, an entity managed by The Gores Group, LLC: The stock has an initial conversion price of USD 3.00 per share - See RNW Jun 20).
The shares ended last week at a new low of 19 cents, having dropped to 17 cents at one point and Westwood One, which received a delisting warning last month (See RNW Sep 19). Seems to have an almost impossible task to "cure" the deficiency and bring its stock back up above a dollar in the six months allowed.
Beusse, Sherwood and Kalin bought 1.875 million shares in the week ended Oct. 3 during which the stock ranged from at closing prices from 39 cents to 55 cents but did not release the price paid (See RNW Oct 14).
Previous Westwood One:
2008-10-20: Sunrise Radio (aka The London Media Company) has put two London stations up for sale, posting notices on their websites inviting those interested to contact the company's chairman Dr Avtar Lit with a deadline of October 31.
Time 106.8, which serves Gravesham, Dartford, Bexley & Greenwich, and South FM, which serves Lewisham, Southwark, Bromley and Croydon have posted identical (apart from the station names) notices on their websites saying they are for sale and continuing, "Our current owners operate large regional and national services and they feel the community would be better served by a local company running a radio station in the area instead of a large media group" before inviting anyone interested to click on a "For Sale" banner for further information.
This carries a similar message and adds "we would welcome the opportunity to speak to any potential buyers for the radio station", then inviting potential purchasers to email the chairman.
Both stations were making losses before the current economic crisis and Lit said the decision to take them had been taken before the crisis broke on the basis that they would be better run in local hands, describing them as good local businesses that did not fit in with the company's portfolio.
In the most recent UK ratings released last week South FM had a weekly reach of 18,000 listeners and Time a weekly reach of 14,000 listeners.
Previous Sunrise Radio:
Southfm web site:
Time106.8 web site:
2008-10-20: US radio revenues in September were again down on a year ago according to the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) but the fall of 8% overall was a little less than in August when figures were down 11% on a year ago.
Unlike previous months however, off-air revenues, which had been showing rises, fell this time although by much less than traditional revenues.
Off air was down 1%; Local revenues were off 10%; National Revenues were off 7% and combined local and national revenues were down 9%.
Previous RAB (August figures):
2008-10-19: Last week was another one in which there were no major regulatory decisions regarding radio with no postings at all in Australia or Ireland and not many elsewhere.
In Canada the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has opened two consultations, one regarding broadcasting services in French- and English-language minority communities and the other relating to Canadian broadcasting in new media/
Regarding the first the CRTC is to hold a public hearing starting on January 13 next year in Gatineau, Quebec, in advance of which it is seeking public comment, to be submitted by November 20 this year. It notes that the hearing is being conducted further to a request by the government, in June 2008, asking the CRTC to report on the French-language broadcasting services in markets with an English-speaking majority, and English-language broadcasting services where French is spoken by the majority. The Commission was also asked to identify the challenges facing these communities from a broadcasting perspective.
It adds that it will submit its report on the matter to the government on or before March 31, 2009.
Regarding New Media, a hearing will be held in Gatineau commencing on February 17 next year and the deadline for comments is December 5 this year.
The CRTC says it is seeking responses related to six main themes:
I. Defining broadcasting in new media
II. The significance of broadcasting in new media and its impact on the Canadian broadcasting system
III. Are incentives or regulatory measures necessary or desirable for the creation and promotion of Canadian broadcasting content in new media?
IV. Are there issues concerning access to broadcasting content in new media?
V. Other broadcasting or public policy objectives
VI. The appropriateness of the new media exemption orders.
The CRTC also posted radio decisions regarding new licences in Alberta.
One set related to applications for new radio stations to serve Red Deer and technical change relating to CJUV-FM, Lacombe, and the other to applications for new stations in Edmonton..
In Edmonton the Commission approved an application by Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMSSA) for a new English- and Aboriginal-language Native Type B FM radio station to serve Edmonton along with 36 transmitters to serve communities across Alberta.
It also approved applications by John Charles Yerxa, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, and Rawlco Radio Ltd. for broadcasting licences to operate new English-language commercial FM radio stations to serve Edmonton.
Additionally it approved applications by CTV Limited and Harvard Broadcasting Inc. for broadcasting licences to operate new English-language commercial FMs to serve Edmonton subject to their finding suitable alternative frequencies to those originally applied for.
AMSSA already operates CFWE-FM, a radio station with studio facilities in Edmonton, which distributes its signal via satellite to a network of 35 FM transmitters serving isolated or underserved Aboriginal communities in Alberta but not Edmonton itself. AMMSA applied for a licence for a 9,300 watts originating station in Edmonton and new 0,700 watts transmitter in Fort McMurray and to continue operating the existing 35 transmitters.
Of the other applications:
* Yerxa was granted a licence for a 40,000 watts English-language Young Variety commercial FM.
*Rawlco was granted a licence for a 51,000 watts Adult Contemporary Hit English-language commercial FM.
* CTV, subject to finding suitable alternative frequency, was granted a licence for a 40,000 watts Essential Alternative (Alternative Rock and Alternative Pop) English-language commercial FM.
*And Harvard Broadcasting Inc., subject to finding suitable alternative frequency, was granted a licence for a 40,000 watts Adult Album Alternative English-language commercial FM.
A further nine applications were denied. These came from:
*Black Gold Broadcasting Inc., on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated for a 17,000 watts Classic Hits English-language commercial FM.
*CIAM Media Broadcasting Association for a 250 watts Type B Community Ethnic FM.
*Evanov Communications Inc., on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated for a 51,000 watts Adult Album Alternative English-language commercial FM.
*Don Kay, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated for a 40,000 watts Adult Alternative English-language commercial FM.
*Guldasta Broadcasting Inc. for a 7,300 watts Contemporary South Asian popular music format Ethnic commercial FM.
*Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation Inc. for a 10,600 watts Ethnic commercial FM with music programming in 20 languages per week.
*Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Ltd. (the general partner) and Jim Pattison Industries Ltd. (the limited partner), carrying on business as Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Limited Partnership for a 40,000 watts Adult Album Alternative English-language commercial FM.
*Rogers Broadcasting Limited for a 51,000 watts All News English-language commercial FM.
*And Frank Torres, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated for a 66,834 watts blues music English-language commercial FM.
In Red Deer, the CRTC approved:
*An application by Harvard Broadcasting Inc. for a new 54,000 watts mainstream Adult Contemporary format English-language commercial FM to serve Red Deer.
*An application by L.A. Radio to change the transmitter location for CJUV-FM, Lacombe, from Lacombe to Red Deer and increase its power from 9,500 to 27,000 watts
The latter it noted would improve the station's signal quality in the communities of Rimbey, Sylvan Lake, Bentley, Blackfalds, Mirror and Clive, communities that in its original licensing application had been identified by L.A. Radio as being part of CJUV-FM's principal marketing area.
The commission also approved, subject to a suitable frequency being found, applications by:
L.A. Radio Group Inc. for a 27,000 watts New Hit Music format English language commercial FM.
*And Touch Canada Broadcasting Limited Partnership for a 56,000 watts Gospel Adult Contemporary format English-language commercial specialty FM.
The CRTC denied a further five applications. These were from:
*CHIP Media Inc. for a 56,000 watts Urban Alternative English-language commercial FM.
*Clear Sky Radio Inc. for a 4,700 watts Gold Based Adult Contemporary English-language commercial FM.
*Golden West Broadcasting Ltd. for an 100,000 watts AC English-language commercial FM.
*Radio CJVR Ltd. for a 56,000 watts Pop/Contemporary Hit English-language commercial FM.
*and Vista Radio Ltd. for a 13,500 watts Classic Hits English-language commercial FM.
In the UK Ofcom posted its latest broadcast bulletin, upholding no radio complaints (See RNW Oct 16). It also posted the latest version of its Broadcasting Code sets standards for television and radio shows.
In the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in a fairly quiet week proposed fines totalling USD 32,000 on Spanish Broadcasting System and of USD 16,000 on Rama Communications (See RNW Oct 18).
The FCC also denied a petition for reconsideration of its decision to grant a Low Power FM Construction Permits for services in the Tampa, Florida, area to Calvary Chapel of Brandon, Inc. and Iglesia Cristiana La Nueva Jerusalem, Inc.
Their applications were mutually exclusive with applications from Projet La Metropole (Metropole) and Florida Force, Inc. and the FCC in accordance with its procedures had listed Metropole, Calvary Chapel and Iglesia as tentative selectees. Calvary Chapel and Iglesia subsequently submitted a submitted a voluntary time-share agreement aggregating their points and were thus granted the CP.
Metropole had submitted a petition for reconsideration, opposed by the other two organisations, arguing that the grant should be rescinded since neither permittee is physically headquartered or has a campus within 10 miles of the proposed site for the transmitting antenna nor are 75 per cent of the permittees' board members residing within 10 miles of the proposed site for the transmitting antenna as required by FCC rules. It also said they had been aware of this when they filed their applications, thus raising misrepresentation issues.
Calvary and Iglesia opposed the petition saying no reason was shown as to why Metropole could not have raised its objections before the permit was granted, had provided no new information and was incorrect in the information it did provide.
The FCC sided with the permittees and denied the petition for reconsideration.
In a New York State decision the FCC granted Bible Church, permittee of FM translator station W230BH (FX), Montauk, an application for a licence to cover the CP and a waiver of its rule that a licence had expired because the station had been dark for more than 12 months.
CBC said that the station's then owner Bridgelight had been unable to use its originally authorized tower site, owned by Pinnacle Towers LLC a/k/a Crown Castle , because a required building permit had not been obtained prior to construction and it had been allowed to relocate to a new site. Operations had commenced in March 2007 and CBC subsequently acquired the station but within a few weeks the site's owned unexpectedly evicted the stations on the basis that its facilities were inconsistent with zoning in a residential area.
CBC then filed a Silent Special Temporary Authorization (STA) request and it and subsequently a modification to use the original site for which it and Pinnacle had been granted local planning approval.
It then found a discrepancy in the antenna structure registration number ("ASR") data applicable to the Pinnacle tower that it said had meant that although it was ready and willing to construct the authorized facilities well before the silence deadline it was unable to do so because of the discrepancy, which caused delays beyond its control.
The FCC found that CBC has pursued the proper authorizations but was prevented from constructing its facilities by administrative resolution of the ASR discrepancies, for which it was not responsible and which it dutifully reported to the tower owner. On this basis it said it would be unduly harsh to penalize CBC for conscientiously initiating actions which directly promoted the integrity of the ASR system and advanced air safety goals and granted the waiver and licence application.
Previous Licence News:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2008-10-18: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture totalling USD 32,000 on Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) for broadcasting phone calls without advance notice to the individual involved.
WXDJ-FM, North Miami Beach, Florida, and WSKQ-FM, New York, were each served with NALs for USD 16,000 following three complaints about an incident in which station personnel called a woman claiming to be employees of a local hospital and told her that the bodies of her husband and daughter were at the hospital. The woman became hysterical and was told at this stage that the call was a prank.
Letters of inquiry were sent to the licensees involved - WXDJ Licensing, Inc. and WSKQ Licensing, Inc. - and they responded saying that Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc. had contracted with a vendor, "Rubin Ithier", who recorded the call for a prank call feature show.
They each admitted that Ithier initiated the call, made at the request of the recipients sister; that they broadcast the call and that he had not informed the call recipient that the call was being recorded for later broadcast until after the prank had been played and the call had been recorded already. The call recipient was not given notice prior to the call being recorded that it was being recorded for future broadcast.
In assessing the penalty the FCC noted that the base forfeiture for this offence is USD 4,000 and that each station broadcast the recorded ca twice. It also noted that their parent company, Spanish Broadcasting Systems, Inc. has a history of violating commission rules including a prior violation by WXDJ Licensing of the telephone broadcast rule.
The FCC also confirmed a USD 16,000 penalty on another Spanish format station, Rama Communications, Inc.'s WLAA-AM, Ocoee, Florida, for failure to maintain an operational Emergency Alert System ("EAS") and failure to maintain and make available complete public inspection files.
It had issued an NAL for USD 16,000 to Rama in August, to which there was no response, leading it to confirm the penalty.
2008-10-17: International satellite operator WorldSpace has now filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy along with its U.S. subsidiaries WorldSpace Systems Corporation and AfriSpace, Inc.
The company said in a news release that its board had unanimously felt that "Chapter 11 reorganization was necessary for the Company to engage in an orderly process to raise sufficient funds to repay its senior secured and convertible notes by means of either a sale of the Company or its assets, or a recapitalization of the Company."
It says it will continue to continue to operate its business and manage its assets as a"debtor-in-possession" under the jurisdiction of the court and adds that the holders of the Company's existing senior secured and convertible notes have agreed to provide, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, a "debtor-in-possession" financing facility of up to USD 13 million for a period of 90 days in order to facilitate a sale transaction.
The financing facility, it adds, "is expected to enable the Company to continue to pay salaries of critical employees and continue operations which are critical to preserving the value of its core assets through the term of the facility."
In other signs of satellite radio woes, Sirius XM Radio in an SEC filing before its December 18 annual meeting seeks the flexibility to increase or decrease the number of common stock shares it has in circulation to meet either refinancing requirements on the one hand or stave off delisting on the other.
Regarding the increase it wants to be able to up the number of authorized shares of common stock from 4.5 million to 8 million, potentially a way out of its refinancing problems - it has three significant refinancing deadlines next year (See RNW Sep 11).
The company also seeks "an amendment to our certificate of incorporation which will effect a reverse stock split of our common stock and reduce the number of authorized shares of our common stock ."
It says the request to increase the number of shares it can issue would be exercised by the Board as and when it is in the company's interests and "will provide us with additional flexibility to meet business and financing needs as they arise."
Of the reverse stock split - to be split at "a ratio of not less than one-for-ten and not more than one-for-fifty" - it says any decision to implement this would "create the greatest marketability for our common stock based upon prevailing market conditions at that time. "
It notes that the NASDAQ requires that its stock trade at more than a dollar and adds that it believes "that approval of this proposal would significantly reduce our risk of not meeting this continued listing standard in the future.
In other US business news, Standard and Poor's has announced that it is to drop Entercom from its MidCap 400 index. Entercom had been 400 in the index after Thursday's close at USD 1.69. Its stock fell further on Friday to end at USD 1.40.
It will be replaced in the index by Texas-based independent oil and natural gas company Comstock Resources Inc.
S&P has also said that Radio One Inc. and California-based recreational vehicle maker Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. are out of its SmallCap 600 index. Taking their places will be Georgia-based wireless communications equipment manufacturer EMS Technologies Inc. and Maryland based satellite equipment company Integral Systems Inc.
Previous Radio One Inc.:
Previous Sirius XM:
2008-10-17: More staffing cuts have been announced in US radio following the earlier job losses when CBS Radio closed its County and Long Beach news bureaus and laid off anchors and reporters from KWFB-AM & KNX-AM (See RNW Oct 13) and Sirius XM laid off at least fifty staff (See RNW Oct 15).
The latest significant cuts come from Entercom which has dismissed nine Boston employees including WRKO-AM host Reese Hopkins - who is being replaced by syndicated Conservative host Laura Ingraham, with other cuts including Kansas City where VP/co-Market Manager Herndon Hasty is amongst those now out, Denver, Milwaukee, Portland, Oregon, and Sacramento.
. The company, which is to release its third quarter results on November 6, is also suspending its matching contributions to 401(k) plans "indefinitely with a plan to reinstate it at some point in the future, after the economy recovers."
In Boston its vice president and market manager for Entercom New England Julie Kahn told the Boston Herald in a statement, "We are all facing difficult economic challenges, and companies and organizations in all industries are being forced to make some very difficult decisions. Entercom was the last company in the radio industry to make any adjustments at all. Ours were very thoughtful and modest. Even given these reductions, we will still bring the best radio broadcasting to our listeners throughout New England."
Entercom is also said to be making cuts in and CEO David Field, who announced the 401K cut in a letter to staff round the country, has also warned that there may be a pay freeze in 2009.
Boston Herald report:
2008-10-17: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has released its 2009 line-up with changes that include the ending of three weekly flagship specialist shows - The Religion Report, The Media Report, and The Sports Factor. Other programmes also going include Street Stories and Radio Eye.
The changes came in for on-air criticism when in a pre-amble to this week's "The Religion Report" when presenter Stephen Crittenden commented of the ending of the programme, "The decision to axe one of this network's most distinctive and important programs has been approved by the director of ABC Radio, Sue Howard, and it will condemn Radio National to even greater irrelevance The ABC's specialist units have been under attack for years, but the decapitation of the flagship program of the Religion Department effectively spells the death of religion at the ABC."
He ended with an appeal for those sufficently concerned to write to the Corporation. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the programme's podcast was initially taken off the ABC Radio National web site and Crittenden was told that the comments had to be removed before the evening repeat broadcast. [RNW Note: The podcast is now on the site along with the audio stream but without Crittenden's criticisms. We have posted a 460 Kb 32 kbps MP3 of Crittenden's comments.]
The ABC said in a news release about the changed schedule that "Rear Vision", which looks at the history of events in the news, will replace The Religion Report on Wednesdays and another new programme "Futures Report" will replace the Media Report on Thursdays whilst on Fridays the schedule lists another new show "Movietime" in place of the Sports Factor. The 08:30 local time schedule for 2009 retains The Health Report on Mondays and Law Report on Tuesdays.
The ABC said the changes will allow it to "convert a small number of positions into roles with a stronger online and digital editorial focus and to enable general enhancements to the networks website."
ABC Radio National Manager Dr Jane Connors added, "Decisions to wind up programs are never easy, as all of the network's shows are made with passion and care, and each have their devoted following. The move of resources and staff, and without job losses, into the development of new content offered in new ways, including online, means ABC Radio National can respond to its hugely successful digital growth and shift in audience trends, especially amongst younger audiences."
"The statistics on ABC Radio National's digital performance are outstanding and contribute greatly in placing the ABC as a major digital broadcast player internationally," she continued.
The ABC noted that in 2006 it averaged 765,000 podcast downloads a month and that this has now increased to 1.7 million and that while its radio broadcasts attract an audience aged 50 and above the online audiences are below this age.
Previous ABC, Australia:
2008-10-16: Latest UK radio ratings released by RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research Ltd) that overall show UK radio listening has remained stable compared to a year ago, reaching just more than 45 million listeners a week, 89% of the UK population.
They also show some good news for Capital FM, now owned by Global Radio, as its breakfast show hosted by Johnny Vaughan and Lisa Snowdon regained its London ratings lead amongst commercial stations and to a degree for commercial radio as a whole as the BBC share of total listening fell back from 55.5% in the previous ratings (to 54.9% although it is still up from the 54.4% of a year ago and its share went up from 42.4% in the previous quarter to 43.1% this quarter (43.3% a year ago).
Despite Vaughan's performance, Bauer's Magic held on to top spot in the London commercial market with 1.885 million listeners - down from 2.005 million in the previous quarter (Its reach was down from 7.4% to 5.8%) followed by Global Radio's Heart with 1.781 million (Up from 1.774 million and with an unchanged 5.7% share) and Capital in third place with 1.590 million (Down from 1.607 million but increasing share from 4.6% to 5.4%).
Within the listening digital listening continued to increase - Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) increased from 8.6% of the total a year ago to 11.3%, that on digital TV platforms was up from 3% to 3.2% and listening via the Internet went up from 1.6% to 2.2%.
Compared to the previous quarter however digital listening was up only slightly - from 31% to 31.4%. In terms of platform there was a steady increase in listening via mobile phones - the percentage of adults who said they had listened via a mobile phone was up from 9.2% to 12.7% year-on-year whilst for those 15-24 it rose from 22.5% to 30.5%.
Commenting on the first ratings since he has been BBC Director of Audio & Music, Tim Davie, who took over from Jenny Abramsky last month, said the figures were "a reflection of the outstanding range of programmes on offer across BBC Radio during the period. They also show digital-only networks performing well and healthy levels of listening across the industry."
For the commercial companies RadioCentre chief executive Andrew Harrison commented, "We have seen some very encouraging results for the Commercial Radio sector and it is particularly pleasing to see us once again regaining some market share - adding 2 percentage points across the last 2 quarters. Local Commercial Radio in particular has had a really strong quarter; this is the second set of results that we have had released since the relaxed regulation for local stations and it is good to see this having a continued positive effect, this confirms yet again that our stations know what they are doing in serving their local audience."
The Centre noted that commercial radio had not only reclaimed listening share but that local commercial stations had "performed particularly well increasing their share year on year and quarter on quarter to 32%.(It was 31.2% in the previous quarter and 31.7% a year ago whilst BBC local/regional stations saw their share fall from 9.6% in the previous quarter and 9.4% a year ago to 9.3%).
At Global Radio there was celebration over its performance with the company highlighting to a "stunning comeback" by Johnny and Lisa, returning to the number one commercial breakfast slot for London" and also noting that "Overall as a station 95.8 Capital FM has enjoyed the biggest leap in listening hours since Q1 06 with 11,133,000 and an increase in share from 4.6 to 5.4 quarter on quarter."
It also noted success at Heart FM in London and by the newly formed Hit Music Network which includes 95.8 Capital FM, Trent FM and Red Dragon, commenting, "All of the stations under this banner have also enjoyed an increase in reach and hours."
"The general picture for Global Radio, the UK's largest commercial radio group," it commented, "is highly positive with steady growth across it stations which also include LBC, Galaxy, XFM and Classic. Global radio recently reorganised its assets into seven 'pillars' including The Heart Network, The Hit Music Network and The Galaxy Network and the group's stations are now listened to by 18.1 million people every week, for a total of 168.1 million hours."
Global Radio Director of Broadcasting Richard Park said the figures were "hugely positive for all of Global's stations, especially 95.8 Capital FM. But we are not complacent - this is a solid foundation on which we will be building" and its CEO Ashley Tabor added that the first set of "true results" for the combined Global Radio were a "great reflection on the hard work and effort from our team" and added, "We still have a lot to do but what a fantastic way to kick off our new company. I look forward to continuing to build Global Radio and all its fantastic brands."
Moving from the giant to the latest - and new small station owner in the business, Oldham station The Revolution increased its audience by 12% to a weekly reach of 19,000 listeners but the time they spent listening was down. Steve Penk, who bought the station last month and it hosting its weekday breakfast show (See RNW Sep 15) commented that it was "It's great to have more listeners" but then noted a fall in listening time from an average 7.5 hours a week to 4.9 hours. He added that the figures, although he didn't take over until Sep 15, proved "once and for all, that we were right in dumping the 'indie' format as it was clearly totally unworkable."
Of the current output he said, "The response we're getting to the new station sound is just phenomenal but it's so frustrating knowing that the results of what we're doing now won't show through in Rajar for many months. All our key indicators are trending upwards and the positive vibe towards 'The Rev' both inside the building and out there in the TSA is incredible".
Within the figures compared to the first quarter and a year ago:
*BBC Radio 1 gained 187,000 listeners and had a weekly audience of 10,871 million with listening share down from 10.0% to 9.80% (10.6% a year ago when it had 10.578 million listeners).
*BBC Radio 2 gained 63,000 listeners and had a weekly audience of 13.061 million with listening share unchanged at 16.0% (15.8% a year ago, when it had 13.013 million listeners)
*BBC Radio 3 gained 37,000 listeners to end with a weekly audience of 1.947 million and an unchanged 1.2% listening share (1.1% a year ago, when it had 1.938 million listeners).
*BBC Radio 4 lost 86,000 listeners to end with a weekly audience of 9.448 million and listening share down from 12.0% to 11.50% (11.2% a year ago when it had 9.262 million listeners).
*BBC Radio 5 Live, excluding Sports Extra, lost 171,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 5.830 million, and an unchanged listening share of 4.6% (4.2% a year ago when it had 5.489 million listeners).
(Including Sports Extra it lost 177,000 listeners to end with a weekly audience of 5.939 million and an unchanged listening of 4.8% (4.4% a year ago when it had 5.652 million listeners).
*BBC World Service gained 52,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 1.362 million and an unchanged listening share of 0.7% (0.7% a year ago when it had 1.303 million listeners).
*BBC Asian Network lost 54,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 419,000 and an unchanged listening share of 0.3% (0.3% a year ago when it had 476,000 listeners).
On the commercial side for national networks:
*Global Radio's Classic FM gained 72,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 5.542 million and listening share down from 3.9% to 3.8% (4.3% a year ago when it had 5.844 million listeners).
*UTV's talkSPORT lost 71,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 2.313 million and an unchanged listening share of 1.9% (1.8% a year ago when it had 2.312 million listeners.).
* Virgin (total including all AM and FM) - in its last ratings before it becomes Absolute Radio - lost 52,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 2.348 million and unchanged listening share of 1.4% (1.5% a year ago when it had an audience of 2.472 million listeners).
RNW Note: SMG has sold Virgin to Times of India subsidiary TIML Golden Square Ltd and the stations are to be re-branded, losing the Virgin name.
Among digital stations - excluding Bauer's Kerrang! which has a substantial analogue and digital listenership and a total weekly reach of 1.398 million including its analogue stations (up from 1.350 million quarter on quarter and down from 1.427 million a year ago) but including BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra and Asian Network - the top ten stations in the survey had a weekly audience as below (previous quarter in brackets):
1 The Hits (Bauer) - 1.597 million (up from 1.477 million and up from 1.494 million a year ago).
2 Smash Hits Radio (Bauer) -1.003 million (up from 976,000 and up from 990,000 a year ago).
3 BBC 7 - 887,000 (up from 812,000 and up from 795,000 a year ago).
4 BBC Five Live Sports Extra -776,000 (up from 748,000 and from 730,000 a year ago).
5 Planet Rock (Now independent, having been sold by GCap) -633,000 (up from 585,000 and up from 530,000 a year ago).
6. BBC 1Xtra - 600,000 (up from 491,000 and up from 421,000 a year ago). Up from eighth.
7 BBC 6 Music -552,000 (up from 551,000 and 485,000 a year ago.). Down from sixth.
8 Heat (Bauer) -458,000 (Up from 432,000 and from 413,000 a year ago).
9 BBC Asian Network -419,000 (down from 473,000 and from 476,000 a year ago). Down from seventh.
10 Q (Bauer) - 330,000 (Up from 277,000 but down from 400,000 a year ago). Up from 11th and exchanging places with Mojo radio which was tenth previously with 329,000 but fell a rank with 259,000 weekly listeners.
*Newcomer NME Radio in its first ratings had 215,000 listeners a week.
RNW note: This report has now been updated..
Previous Global Radio:
Previous RAJAR and RAJAR ratings:
2008-10-16: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest bulletin upholds standards complaints against six TV companies over various programming but no radio complaints.
The numbers compare with one radio and six TV standards complaints upheld in the previous bulletin in which it also considered another radio and another TV standards complaint resolved through action already taken by the broadcaster and also partly upheld a TV Fairness and Privacy Complaint.
In addition to the above it also listed without details 330 TV complaints against 153 items and 27 radio complaints against 27 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compares with 231 TV complaints against 112 items and 12 radio complaints against 12 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2008-10-15: In view of the market and economic turmoil of current times, much of last week's print comment on radio as on other matters related to economic woes with various arguments concerning Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings also garnering much comment in the US.
The first has exacerbated problems that have led to "downsizing" in various radio companies; a situation it takes no genius to predict is likely to get worse.
So straight into the fray with Jerry Del Colliano and a blog that began, "Friday did not just end a bad week for the stock market, it was also the beginning of the end for what's left of the radio industry. The final round of personnel cuts is coming to a radio group near you between now and the end of the year."
He then continued, "CBS decided to go first"; went on to note that a "massacre occurred at CBS in Los Angeles when KNX and KFWB fired 20 staffers for an estimated one million annual cost savings"; and continued, "We've seen a lot of cost cutting in radio almost since consolidation started back in 1996 -- remember the mantra -- economies of scale. Now it's panic firing."
And of this particular action, having noted that, "Revenues are down due to the failing economy and an antiquated industry that hasn't kept up its content, competition or audience" he commented, "Imagine the sense of firing 20 content providers from two news and talk properties when radio is becoming more unlistenable by the day.
"How does this make these stations better? Next time there is an earthquake or a wildfire in SoCal, how does this cutback make the product better?
"How do they become more local -- the only mission that radio can achieve for any chance of survival?"
And then after more, "It doesn't and they don't care. The end has come because there won't be many left to fire in 2009. I'm told the LA firings are just the beginning in that cluster. More station personnel reportedly have been designated although they have not yet been notified."
There's more on the blog including warnings for those working "at all-news WINS and WCBS-AM, New York and KYW in Philadelphia right now" and the ominous lines," in radio long-term plans used to be gauged from ratings book to book. Now they are measured by mistake to mistake by radio CEOs."
Del Colliano says his view is that radio CEOs don't want this "But the disease is too advanced. Things are too out of control. They are fighting for their own lives" and notes comments he's received from readers who don't want to carry out corporate-inspired firings but fear they'll e next if they don't.
The blog has more on his views on how the decline occurred and suggestions that CBS should be investing money in it's news brand if not necessarily on terrestrial output and various comment on cutbacks by CBS and the state of the industry for those working in it but perhaps the economic situation was best summed up by a response regarding the fortunes of investment over the past few years.
It's worth a repeat in its entirety to end the extract from the blog:
"Carmen Allgood said...
Just to lighten things up a bit, let's look at some other stock values...
If you had purchased $1,000.00 of Delta Air Lines stock one year ago you would have $49.00 left.
With Enron stock, you would have had $16.50 left of the original $1,000.00.
With WorldCom stock, you would have had less than $5.00 left.
But, if you had purchased $1,000.00 worth of beer, one year ago, drank all of the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminium recycling REFUND, you would have had $214.00.
Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle.
It's called the 401-Keg."
Moving away from Del Colliano with a note that an earlier post -on Friday 10th as it happens - concerning putting radio on mobile devices is also worth a read, we go on to Mel Phillips and his "Now and Then" blog in which he decries a report from the Radio Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) and Hofstra University - written before the CBS LA firings became public.
"Don't know about you," he responds, "but I'm not hearing more news on the station I listen to. And they can't be talking about all-news radio because you can't get more news on those stations unless you add another hour to the day. The RTNDA/Hofstra survey reports an increase in the minutes of locally produced news with major markets averaging 83.9 minutes, large markets 55.8 minutes, medium markets 53.2 minutes and small markets 49.9 minutes. The gains 'were fuelled by added news in afternoon drive and evenings.'"
And, "The bigger the news staff, the more news produced says the report. The median staff size remained one person. A record-high 83.1% of radio news directors also have other responsibilities - 23% are talk show hosts, 17% also do sports and weather, 11% are PDs, 10% are GMs, 7.3% dabble in sales and 7.3% include public affairs as part of their duties. I wonder how many sweep out the place when everyone leaves "
And as for earlier, "This report reminds me of the days when even contemporary radio did news."
RNW comment: Indeed. And as we've so often commented when various people at the FCC and elsewhere have said there is now more choice of news because of the Internet, so much of what there is regurgitation of information from an agency - more processing, more additives, but less raw material in the form of actual reporting.
The above can only lead many people feeling in despair they need a break from the news so we next move to the UK and Gillian Reynolds radio column in the UK Daily Telegraph.
Headed, "When a news junkie goes cold turkey", she began, "Every day for me starts with "Wake Up to Money" on Radio 5 Live, then with Nicky Campbell and Sheila Fogarty thereafter until the text messages get too silly or Campbell goes off on another hobby horse. Then I switch to Today and listen right through to the end, sometimes wanting to throttle the presenters, sometimes cheering them, always longing for news from places other than London, Washington or Robert Peston's home studio. But the other morning, as the birds were waking and I was washing the kitchen floor, I found I just couldn't take any more news."
Of her normal state she wrote, "Naturally nosy, inquisitive by inclination, I class myself as a news junkie. Normally I cherish the illusion of being close to what's happening as purveyed by the BBC through the largest newsgathering team in the world. It's like having a great golden robe of information draped about one's grateful shoulders."
But after reaching the limit " So off I went along the airwaves. Kaiser Chiefs? No. Power ballads? No fear. Then up swam Stevie Wonder and all manner of stuff from the late Seventies and that's where I stayed, with Smooth, where Graham Dene (who used to be on Radio City in Liverpool and then was with Capital and thereafter moved around FM as all good DJs will) was doing 'guess the year' as if time were in a bottle. It's at times like this that a person suddenly realises that all that stuff music radio says about itself, that it's the soundtrack of your life, golden memories, great company, love life love music, etc etc, can actually not only be true, but effective. It can even take the panic out of the hourly news."
Reynolds then goes on to praise BBC Radio 2: "Radio 2 does it more successfully than any other station. It would not have been the nation's favourite for more than a decade if it didn't It is, however, more than just a music network. Its vast audience comes from it being good company and, most significantly, from being so to more than one generation and one audience segment."
The rest deals with her personal rating of various programmes on the station - follow the link for more.
And sticking to positives about radio, last week Chris Campling in his Radio Head column in the UK Times praises "the inspired Olivia O'Leary" who began a new three-part "Between Ourselves" series on the station on Tuesday, saying she is "nowhere near as famous as she should be. She is a consummate interviewer. She gets more out of her subjects than ten Parkies, Buerkies or Hobdaysies put together."
As to why "Perhaps it's because her researchers happen to stumble across blabbermouths with no interest in keeping their darkest secrets to themselves, but I think not. O'Leary is simpatico. Her voice carries the comfort of roaring hearths, teacakes and mugs of steaming chocolate laced with truth serum Between Ourselves: it has a cosy ring to it, an intimacy. It's just them spilling their guts to her, because something inside them tells them they have to. Forget waterboarding and matches under the fingernails, Olivia O'Leary can get anyone to talk."
Campling then noted her past as a "former political sketch writer and author of books about politicians" but adds that her talents to not extend to getting information from "the great and the good", commenting, "Any political dweeb can do that, though. But how would Jeremy Paxman manage to get the best out of a Muslim woman who has fallen in love with a non-Muslim? Or a woman who has left her husband for another woman? Or, most memorably, a woman married to a man who became a man, comparing traumas with a man who married a woman who then became a man?"
So rather than going back to any negatives on to listening suggestions starting with the aforesaid "Between Ourselves."
Then to Reynolds' stations - Smooth is on the Internet and from BBC Radio 2 this week we suggest a selection illustrating some its range - for reasons of work we listen to its daytime output comparatively rarely but in essence you either like Terry Wogan, who hosts the 07:30 to 09:30 local time breakfast show and the following regulars who include Steve Wright (14:00 local; 13:00 GMT) and Chris Evans (1700 local: 16:00 GMT) or you don't - so the selection is of its evening and weekend shows.
Starting at the weekend we go for the comedy hour starting from 13:00 local (currently noon GMT) with "The Smith Lectures" - the last of the six part series is next Saturday - and following "Clive Anderson's Chat Room."
From later on Saturdays in the 19:00 local (18:00 GMT slot) we suggest last Saturday and "Remember A Day...Richard Wright in His Own Words" and this coming Saturday - "Joe Strummer's Last Recorded...Concert."
From this week we suggest Monday's "Big Band Special", the first of a tow-part tribute to conductor and arranger Steve Gray and following "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie......The Louis Jordan Story (The second of a four- parter).
And finally from Radio 2 we suggest next Friday and the last of the six-part "Howard Goodall's Class Acts", looking at young musical talent in British specialist schools and arts colleges: This week it looks at the Brit School in Croydon.
Moving to BBC Radio 3 we again note that for most of the output it's a matter of whether you like the composers and musicians involved but suggest amongst the music output last Saturday's "World Routes", which features Lucy Duran in Mali with traditional and modern players of the African xylophone and the following "Jazz Library" with the selection from pianist Junior Mance plus Monday's "Jazz on 3" featuring a gig by the Sonny Simmons Quartet given at London's Vortex Jazz Club in September 2008 and next Saturday's "Music Matters" (12:15 local: 11:15 GMT) in which Petroc Trelawny talks to leading American composer John Adams.
Among the station's non-music output we suggest last Sunday's "Sunday Feature" - "Elegy" in which poet Michael Symmons Roberts presents his personal exploration of the role of the elegy; the regular weekday "Essay" series (23:00 local:22:00 GMT) that this week in "To Russia with Love" features Declan Donnellan reflecting on the discoveries he made while working in Russian theatre; Friday's "The Verb" (21:15 local, 20:15 GMT) which features Ian McMillan with poet Michael Symmonds Roberts and 'eartoonist' Peter Blegvad; and drama in "The Wire" (Last Saturday it was a production of Debbie Tucker Green's "Random" and this coming Saturday it has Louise Wallwein's first radio play "Dirty White Girl") and "Drama on 3" (Last Sunday it had a new production of John Webster's "The Duchess of Malfi" and this coming Sunday there is a repeat of Gregory Burke 's "Black Watch " that is based on his interviews with former soldiers who served in Iraq.
And then BBC Radio 4 with music to start with in the form of last Saturday's "Baghdad Headbangers", the story of Iraq's most celebrated heavy metal band, Acrassicauda and Tuesday's "Soul Music" - this week on "What A Wonderful World."
Then to the regular weekday programming in the form of the continuing weekday "Book of the Week" - this week it's "The Age of Wonder" - Richard Holmes' account of the scientific ferment that swept through Britain in the late-18th century (09:45 local 08:45 GMT), "America Land of Liberty (15:45 local, 14:45 GMT with a compendium edition on Friday at 21:00 local, 20:00 GMT).
From Monday we opt for "Letters to Myself", a look at people who have written letters to themselves to be opened in the future.
From Tuesday we suggest Olivia O'Leary's "Between Ourselves" which we have already mentioned and that this week brought together Tony Little, the headteacher of Eton, and Michael Wilkins, head teacher of Outwood Grange, a huge comprehensive school, and "File on 4" that looked at the lawsuits being filed in the US in connection with the current financial crisis.
From Wednesday we go for "Being Normal" in which Vivienne Parry continues her quest to find out what is normal, looking this week at what is "normal "blood pressure and how the food industry currently increases the chances of people having heart attacks and strokes and "Tina C Goes Down Under" in which Christopher Green's comic creation country singer and US presidential hopeful Tina C looks at the Australian obsession with country music.
From Thursday we opt for "In our Time" on "Vitalism" - what distinguishes the living from the non-living and "In Business" in which Peter Day looks at issues related to whistle-blowing;
From Friday we go for comedy and "The News Quiz" (18:30 local, 17:30 GMT) and then end, sticking with comedy with Saturday's "Archive Hour -How Radio Comedy Changed a Nation" (20:00 local, 19:00 GMT) in which Nicholas Parsons explores how radio comedy has developed and how it reveals much about the way the British live.
RNW note: Because of other pressures that have delayed this posting, we will update listening suggestions later with MP3s from other broadcasters.
RNW note: Because of other pressures that have delayed this posting, we will update listening suggestions later.
InsideMusicMedia - Del Colliano blog:
Mel Phillips blog:
UK Telegraph -Reynolds:
UK Times - Campling:
2008-10-15: The job losses are continuing to pile up in broadcasting round the world with word from the US of at least 50 people being dumped at Sirius XM Radio with more to follow and more job cuts on the way at Global Radio, ITN, and UTV in the UK.
Sirius XM were considered inevitable following the merger but according to Radio and Records the company's plans leaked early when an employee routinely went into the company's payroll site and found a termination date of October 15 against his or her name.
Others alerted rushed to log in to find their fate, says R and R, but access to the site was soon denied. It adds that the terminated employees have now been formally contacted and lists some nine XM names it has been told are affected. R and R also says that a second wave of terminations is likely in a fortnight or so, probably on November 5 when it says rumours are that the company will announce a combined Sirius-XM line-up to be aired on both Sirius and XM's satellites rather than allowing subscribers an a la carte pick from the Sirius and XM service.
In the UK, more than 30 jobs are expected to go at ITN, which has already announced a 40% cut in its regional news staff, following a decision by Independent Radio News to move its business to Sky News Radio, although the latter may take on some of the ITN radio staff (See below).
In addition staff at UTV are expecting around 30 jobs to go as its cuts back its TV news and current affairs output following an Ofcom review that would allow it to cut news output by around a quarter to four hours a week with non-news output cut back from four hours to 90 minutes a week.
It has offered all its TV staff voluntary redundancy.
In addition the UK Guardian reports that Global Radio is to cut back its daytime news bulletins with local bulletins on Global Radio stations - including Capital FM and the Heart and Galaxy networks -to be limited to breakfast and drivetime and the one-minute local news bulletins currently aired between 11am and 3pm to be replaced by an hourly national news feed from London, also to be one minute long.
The change it reports will affect 25 people and the company has said that although it would look to redeploy them elsewhere in the company there may be redundancies.
Global has also outsourced all its travel news to UBC Media, whose Unique Broadcasting already served the stations it owned prior to taking over GCap as well as providing a service to Bauer's 35 UK radio stations.
The two-year deal adds the GCap stations now owned by Global making a total of 71 stations and starts on November 17.
UBC said it was a significant development that would increase "impact delivery" for its advertisers by nearly a third and take the weekly adult reach across the Network Drive package up by five million to 21 million. It added that Bauer in a separate but related deal had extended its current contract for a further two years.
RNW comment: As regards the Sirius XM cuts the move would seem to be a logical cost-cutting approach as it maximises the cutbacks the merged company can make. Were the financial circumstances faced by the company better we would think the move breaches the spirit of the deal that was put forward to get regulatory approval to a degree that the FCC should have been in a position to immediately take severe action in the interests of listeners: it would certainly have been fair and a suitably chastening response to have insisted that at least half the spectrum on each satellite go to outside suppliers with no charges to be made with the option being automatic revocation of the licences and an immediate offer of the space to others.
As it is we cannot see there being any rush of other providers and the refinancing that will be needed in the next twelve months puts Sirius XM between a rock and a hard place so there is probably little in practical terms that can be done by a regulator although we'd still like to see Mel Karmazin put under pressure by at least a threat of hearings to consider revocation.
As regards the UK cuts, the news related changes are a consequence of mergers, eased regulation and a worsening economic climate with advertising prognostications the gloomiest they have been for more than a decade.
In these circumstances there is again a limit to what a regulator can do but it would seem to us this is a time when the services provided by the BBC become even more valuable. There has already been public disagreement between Ofcom and the Corporation over such ideas as "top slicing" licence fee funding for public service output on commercial broadcasters, an idea about which BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons commented that it has "next-to-no support from within the industry", adding that Ofcom's own research showed most people would prefer to have their money back.
Our view is very much in support of the BBC and specifically of BBC speech radio with associated support of BBC music radio rather than considering ideas that might damage the BBC - and the service to listeners - to aid commercial radio. We remain of the view that monopolies are undesirable and that commercial broadcasters are an invaluable spur to the BBC but forced to a choice there would be no choice but to retain BBC radio and dump commercial radio, if only for its value in providing information and education.
Previous Global Radio:
Previous Sirius XM:
Radio and Records web site:
UK Guardian report:
2008-10-15: Sky News Radio has announced that it has taken the contract to supply Independent Radio News (IRN), the main provider of news to UK commercial radio stations, from Independent Television News, the provider to IRN for the past 16 years.
Sky News has a three-year contract to start in March next year when the current ITN contract expires and the move puts into play 34 radio journalists' jobs. ITN, whose chief executive Mark Wood expressed disappointment with the decision after it had "delivered an award winning news service to IRN for 16 years", and added, "ITN's proposal was for a continued high quality, tightly costed, service that our client stations have come to expect from us."
ITN is now expected to open discussions with Sky about a move by some or all of them to Sky News Radio.
At Sky, a spokesman noted that Sky News Radio already supplies its services to more than 80 stations in the UK, South Africa and Spain - it had already taken over the contract for supply to the then Chrysalis stations Heart and Galaxy - now part of Global Radio - and will now add some 250 more to its "successful bespoke radio service."
IRN chief executive John Perkins said it had been "a difficult decision." His company is currently based in ITN's headquarters in London and ITN has a minority holding with other shareholders including Global Radio, the majority shareholder, and Bauer Radio.
IRN made its debut on October 8, 1973, the day that commercial radio was officially launched in the UK at which time it was housed in a basement in Fleet Street, the then home of Britain's national newspaper industry, and its first client was LBC(London Broadcasting) - the first commercial station to go to air.
Previous Sky News Radio:
2008-10-15: TargetSpot has announced that it has acquired online radio advertising rep firm Ronning Lipset Radio with the latter's co-founders and managing partners Eric Ronning and Andy Lipset to become co-President/Sales of TargetSpot.
It says the combined company will represent more than a thousand radio stations operated by some fifty radio and Internet radio companies.
TargetSpot CEO Doug Perlson commented, "Eric and Andy are true leaders and innovators in their field. Ronning Lipset Radio was the first company to recognize the untapped value and immense opportunities presented by Internet radio advertising. They have generated more revenue for the online radio industry than any other third-party rep firm and have accounted for close to 14 billion audio-player impressions sold since the company's inception. With TargetSpot's technology and Ronning Lipset's sales expertise, we look forward to providing unprecedented solutions for advertisers and the strongest monetization possible for Internet radio businesses."
2008-10-14: No statement has yet come about its future from the partners in the Digital4 consortium who have been in emergency talks following the decision by Channel 4, which held a 55% share, to pull out and drop its digital radio plans (See RNW Oct 10).
The partners - Bauer, BSkyB, Carphone Warehouse, UBC Media and UTV are reported to have been in contact over the weekend over the future of the second national commercial digital multiplex that the group won but auguries are not favourable as the Channel 4 pullout took three of its own channels from the proposed bouquet of ten national channels and in addition CanWest, which was to have launched an album music station has now withdrawn from UK radio and sold its stations and Virgin Radio has dropped plans for a women's service Virgin Radio Viva.
Of the remaining planned stations BSkyB, which had partnered with Chrysalis Radio in plans to launch Sky news Radio has indicated it is unlikely to find a new partner needed after Chrysalis was bought by Global Radio and Bauer is reported to have put its plans for a digital radio spin-off of its "Closer" women's magazine on hold.
UTV has re-iterated its commitment to DAB (Digital audio broadcast) radio but is reviewing its plans for a national launch of TalkRadio. There is no word about the commitment of Radio Disney and Sunrise Radio to the channels they had planned.
One possibility is that the project could be mothballed as there is currently the possibility of using channels on the existing National One digital multiplex following various pullouts - in April this year Channel 4 was reported to be in discussions with Global Radio about getting its initial services to air more speedily using this multiplex (See RNW Apr 17).
Previous Channel 4:
2008-10-14: Sirius XM Radio CEO Mel Karmazin has maintained a positive note about the future of the company at a Dow Jones Media and Money conference, saying it was "probably one of the top 25 media companies today" and adding, "I think it's very clear that we will be the most successful company in the audio entertainment industry. I know certainly, as ranked by revenue, we'll be there soon. Now we just need to grow our free cash flow and demonstrate that."
He did acknowledge that the company could have problems with Wall Street, commenting that the "the companies that get rewarded today are companies that have an awful lot of cash flow, that make a great balance sheet. And that's not us today."
He also contested the views of sceptics who have said that if the automobile market does badly it will hit the company hard, arguing that even in a worst case scenario of 12 million cars sold in 2009 - and "no one has forecast that number as low" this would mean that six million cars would leave the assembly line with satellite radio in them of whom around half could be expected to retain the service, thus adding around three million new subscribers. He also noted that that an advertising downturn would have comparatively little effect on the company as around 95% of its revenues come from subscriptions - currently it has around 19.5 million subscribers.
A CNET News report by Caroline McCarthy quoted Karmazin as saying, "I think it's very clear that we will be the most successful company in the audio entertainment industry. I know certainly, as ranked by revenue, we'll be there soon. Now we just need to grow our free cash flow and demonstrate that."
She also noted that Sirius XM has around USD 1 billion in debt to refinance and that this could be problematic in the current environment.
Sirius shares closed Tuesday at 48cents, a fall of a three cents from Monday's closing price: Their low in the past year has been 36 cents and high USD 3.94.
Previous Sirius XM:
CNET News report:
2008-10-14: UK Laser Broadcasting, which is facing a winding up hearing in the High Court in Leeds today (See RNW Oct 6) has terminated the contracts of five DJs working for Brunel FM according to the Swindon Advertiser.
The paper adds that staff at the company's stations have not been paid in recent weeks and quoted Ian Timms, one of those made redundant, as saying, "Staff are absolutely gutted, we were given no choice but to go. I was called up on Friday and told I wouldn't be needed any more. It seems we had to go to cut costs. I was on a full-time contract. I'm not sure if I'll get redundancy pay. A skeleton staff will work until a new buyer is found."
The paper said Brunel FM staff had not been paid for a month and noted that it had reported the resignation of former breakfast DJ Dan Chisholm - who said there had been payment problems and delays since Laser began running the stations at the start of July - after the pay and expenses owed to him rose to GBP 3,000 (USD 5,200): It adds that he has now been paid two-thirds of the amount owed but is still waiting for a final payment of GBP 900 (USD 1,570).
Previous Laser Broadcasting:
Swindon Advertiser report:
2008-10-14: Westwood One shares plummeted on Tuesday, falling 29% to end at a new low of 24 cents: The company has USD 85 million of debt that it needs to re-finance within the next year - USD 35 million in bank loans expiring in February next year and USD 50 million in senior secured notes that mature in November 2009, and has blamed concerns that it will not be able to re-finance for a fall in its stock price.
Last month it received a delisting warning after its stock had closed below a dollar for 30 days (See RWN Sep 17): It subsequently fell to below 50 cents at the end of September and has remained low..
CEO Thomas Beusse in an interview told Bloomberg it was "talking first to banks about getting some room to move there, maybe some extension or a total refinancing. We'd like to remove the entire '09 overhang.''
"The market has largely bet that we wouldn't be able to refinance, which is why our stock price has fallen, we think," added Beusse, who noted that he, CFO Roderick Sherwood and COO Steven Kalin bought 1.875 million shares in the week ended Oct. 3, after financial presentations to current and potential investors.
"They said they'd like to see two things,'' Beusse said. "One is remove the debt overhang, and two is, we'd like to see you guys put up some of your own money.''
Previous Westwood One:
2008-10-13: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has named Janet McGregor, most recently president and chief executive officer of the Lockheed Martin Investment Management Company, as its COO and CFO.
She will join the organization on November 3 with a remit to oversee the organization's financial operations and investments with additional responsibility for the NAB's Conventions and Business Operations, Science and Technology, Information Technology and Administration departments.
NAB President and CEO David K. Rehr said in a release of her appointment, "Janet's experience and abilities will greatly benefit our organization, employees and the broadcast stations and networks for which we advocate," said NAB President and CEO David K. Rehr. "I am looking forward to her leadership on the executive team and the guidance and expertise she brings from her years of experience in the private sector."
"Our number one priority," he added, "is to be the strongest advocate for broadcasters on Capitol Hill and before the FCC and other agencies. That means ensuring that NAB's resources are solid and sustaining well into the future. Janet's immense experience and financial expertise will serve the association well."
The NAB in its news release announcing the appointment did not mention its former CFO/executive VP Michael Williams who left on Friday but said the added roles McGregor is taking on reflect an expansion of the position as part of "a strategic restructuring" initiated "to ensure that in these challenging economic times, the association's finances remain strong."
2008-10-13: Absolute Radio, the successor to Virgin Radio, has launched its TV advertising campaign - part of a GBP 15 million ( USD 26 million ) re-brand with an advert featuring a station guard played by a dwarf who shows a group of visitors round the station studios but then orders them from the building when one of them criticizes the music played.
The advert is one of nine created by the Albion advertising agency with the series featuring actor Jordan Prentice as the guard and also DJs Christian O'Connell and Geoff Lloyd.
The ads were run some 500 times over the weekend and the agency has created the campaign in the form of a mini-series with the idea that the central character will put over the brand.
In other news relating to Absolute Radio, which is owned by TIML Golden Square, a Times of India subsidiary that is ultimately owned by Bennett, Coleman & Co., the Swedish-owned Absolut vodka brand has launched a law suit claiming infringement of its trademark.
V&S Vin&Sprit owns the Absolut vodka brand and Absolut Tracks music project and claims that consumers could become confused over the similar names to the detriment of its vodka: It is claiming trademark infringement and passing off. Absolute Radio is fighting the suit and says that it does not believe there will be any confusion.
RNW comment: As we have commented in the past over other trademarking issues our view is that if a company uses a word in common use in the language there never be any grant of a trademark. Our view is that companies should have to go to the trouble of creating a name - after all many of the most famous names have moved into the language rather than appropriating it - and additionally where it is foolish enough to take action that would potentially affect public use of the words should face the risk of having all its trademarks revoked, which in these hard times would give work to those who would then have to come up with new brand names.
Previous Bennett, Coleman & Co.:
2008-10-13: CBS Radio has closed its Orange County and Long Beach news bureaus according to the Orange County Register, which also reports that three anchors and a number of reporters at KFWB-AM and KNX-AM have been laid off.
It adds that CBS did not officially release the names of those it had fired but other CBS sources confirmed that the list included bureau chief Lori Kelman and Jennifer Bauman in the Orange County bureau and Sharon Katchen in the Long Beach bureau: Other names listed by the paper as dismissed included KFWB-FM anchors Larry Carroll and John Darin and reporters Lonnie Lardner, Dirk Morgan, Chris Sedens, Michael Forest, and Christine Villacorte.
At KNX it listed those dismissed as including Gerry Mulvaney, who works in creative services and did voiceovers for the station, Michael Linder, Vicky Cox and Laura Ornest.
Orange County Register report:
2008-10-13: Chicago WGN-AM morning host Spike O'Dell has told his listeners that he plans to retire in December, confirming various earlier newspaper reports that he had made a firm decision to step down (See RNW Jul 10).
Dell who termed the decision a "worst-kept secret" said he would leave the station in the second week of December, commenting, "Come Jan. 1 of next year, somebody else is going to be doing the morning show."
"It's been out there for a little bit," he added."A couple of newspapers have had it a few times, but I've never really officially said anything about it on the air. Now I want everybody to know that this is not a knee-jerk reaction thing."
The Chicago Tribune, which like WGN is owned by Tribune Co., reported that a station source had said there are five plans for the station's morning program under consideration for the start of the New Year and adds that the announcement came almost 22 months after O'Dell had told the paper the contract he signed two years ago would be his last.
WGN-AM vice president and general manager Tom Langmyer, who termed O'Dell "one of the good guys" and "an incredible part of Chicago's top-rated radio station " noted that O'Dell had made his intentions clear long ago and added, "Despite our best efforts to delay his dream, we are very happy that Spike has been able to achieve his long-time goal. We'll miss his warmth and humour, but most of all, we will miss him personally. He is the genuine article. He is everything you hear on the air, and more."
Dell commented, "This is something we've talked about for years and years, and I guess the magic number was 55 years old. I'm 55 and we always wanted to do that. Our plan was to hopefully be able to retire at that age and go off and enjoy the world while we still young enough and healthy enough to do so, so we're going to do it."
He took over the morning show from Bob Collins who died in a plane crash in February 2000 (See RNW Feb 9, 2000) having been WGN afternoon host for 13 years. He stood in in the morning slot for three weeks before being formally named as successor to Collins (See RNW Mar 3, 2000) and a year later signed a three-year contract (See RNW Mar 8, 2001).
Previous Tribune Co.:
Chicago Tribune report:
2008-10-12: The main licensing issue over the past week came from a decision by Channel 4 to drop its radio plans, putting UK regulator Ofcom on the spot over the future of digital radio in the UK (See RNW Oct 10). Elsewhere there were no radio postings in Australia and Ireland although there were a number in Canada and the US.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) posted a number of radio related decisions including the following (In order of province):
*Approval of relocation of transmitter of CTV's CFUN-AM, Vancouver, to a new site approximately 8 km (5 miles) south-east of its current transmitter site. The licensee said the existing transmitter has deteriorated to the point that the station is unable to prove its antenna pattern and the commission noted that the new transmitter will be able to reach an area with a population some 574,000 fewer than its present transmitter.
Newfoundland and Labrador:
*Renewal until 31 August 2015 of licences of Seventh-Day Adventist Church's English-language religious station VOAR-AM, Mount Pearl, and its transmitters VOAR-1-FM, Bay Roberts;, VOAR-2-FM, Marystown; VOAR-3-FM, Lewisporte;VOAR-4-FM, Gander; VOAR-5-FM, Deer Lake; VOAR-6-FM, Botwood; VOAR-7-FM, Springdale; VOAR-8-FM, Grand Falls; VOAR-9-FM, Corner Brook; VOAR-10-FM, Port aux Basques; VOAR-11-FM, Goose Bay; and VOAR-12-FM, Wabush.
*Renewal until 31 August 2015 of licence of Christian Youth Centre (Kingston)'s English-language, low-power station CJCE-FM, Godfrey.
*Approval of application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to add a 5,460 watts FM transmitter in Saint-Donat, Quebec, to rebroadcast the programming from the French-language national network service La Première Chaîne originating at CBF-FM, Montreal.
*Renewal until 31 August 2015 of licences of Groupe Radio Antenne 6 inc.'s CHVD-FM, Dolbeau, and CHRL-FM, Roberval.
The CRTC also posted a public notice advising that it had received an application for a commercial radio service to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and calling for further applications, adding that it has not reached any conclusion with respect to the licensing of any service at this time.
In the UK, as noted Ofcom has been put on the spot as regards digital radio by the decision of Channel 4 to cancel its radio plans: The regulator is now in urgent talks with other broadcasts on the future f the second national commercial digital multiplex that was won by a consortium led by Channel 4.
Ofcom also formally noted that the BBC has launched a new department to oversee all of its interactive services, including phone-in competitions as a move that the corporation says is part of a comprehensive plan to tackle problems that arose last year involving interactive votes, competitions and the use of premium rate phone numbers:
Last year Ofcom levied a number of record fines in relation to the conduct of competition including record fines on ITV (Of GBP 5.68 million (then USD 11.19 million) in May ; GCap Media - of GBP 1.1 million (then (USD 2. 21 million) in June (See RNW 26), and the BBC - of GBP 400,000 (then USD 792,000) in July (See RNW July 30).
Its other radio related posting concerned pirate radio concerning which it has posted a factsheet detailing amongst other things why it considers pirate radio a problem; its role in tackling illegal broadcasting; the law on the matter; and some case examples.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has kept quiet about issues to do with Arbitron ratings despite high profile political and legal activity over the Portable People Meter ratings system.
On other matters it has a fairly quiet week although there were a number of radio enforcement actions and decisions related to contested licence issues.
On the enforcement front the agency:
* Issued a USD 12,800 monetary forfeiture to Manuel Huerta, licensee of WJHX-AM, Lexington, Alabama, for failure to file a licence renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after the licence had expired and also for failure properly to maintain a public inspection file for the station.
It had issued a USD 16,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) in April 2005 to which Huerta had filed a response requesting a substantial reduction in May that year: he argues that he had not failed to file "a required form" but had filed it late; that the penalty proposed for the public file violations was "far out of proportion" to the seriousness of the violations; and because of voluntary disclosure of the public file violations and a history of compliance.
The FCC dismissed the argument concerning late filing, observing that the requirement was to file by a deadline and that the station had operated without a licence for nearly three weeks before the renewal application was filed: it upheld the USD 7,000 penalty for this breach.
Regarding the public file violations it noted that the file was incomplete for nearly two years and said the USD 9,000 penalty for this was consistent with penalties it had previously imposed and also commented that the disclosure was made in connection with the renewal. It did however accept that there was a history of compliance and reduced the penalty to USD 5,800, making the total USD 12,800, on this basis.
In Washington State the FCC announced details of a Consent Decree with QueenB Radio, Inc., licensee of KZZU-FM, Spokane, under which the company will pay a USD 12,000 penalty in respect sponsorship identification disclosure requirements that were being investigated by the agency. It also noted that the company is in the process of implementing, new, more expansive, Company-wide Business Reforms and a Compliance Plan designed to help insure that the conduct and broadcasts by Company, Company Stations or its employees will not violate the Sponsorship Identification Laws and as part of the agreement these have to be brought into effect with 60 days and kept in effect for three years with a condition that the company has to given written notice of any changes it may subsequently propose, being allowed to implement them if there are no FCC objections within thirty days of its receiving the notice.
In Virginia, the agency substituted an admonishment for a USD 6,000 NAL issued to the former licensee of WBLT-AM, Bedford, for failure to file its licence renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after the licence expired. WBLT had argued for a reduction on the basis that it had filed a renewal application on paper before the deadline together with the filing fee and relevant FCC form. It added that its bank statement showed that its cheque was deposited three months before the licence was due to expire and it had thus assumed that the application had been accepted and would be processed.
The FCC as usual stuck to its bureaucratic guns in regard to the licence renewal requirements but cancelled the financial penalty and substituted an admonishment.refused to rescind the go-ahead for Saga to purchase WKRT-AM and WIII-FM, Cortland, New York, from Citadel.
The two had completed their deal in September last year but the Finger Lakes Alliance for Independent Media ("FLAIM") on the basis that although Saga was compliant with the Commission's local radio ownership rules its operation of five stations in the Ithaca market would result in an undue concentration of ownership that would impede viewpoint diversity, particularly with respect to news coverage.
The commission noted that FLAIM had made identical arguments in an earlier petition to deny filed to prevent Saga's acquisition of its fourth station in the Ithaca market from Eagle Broadcasting Corp., an acquisition that was ultimately approved.
Citadel and Saga had argued that FLAIM's call should be dismissed because it had failed to file a timely Petition to Deny and the FCC agreed and dismissed its petition calling for rescission of the approval.
Previous Licence News:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2008-10-11: A BBC World Service interview by Carrie Gracie withthe BBC's former Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston who was kidnapped in March last year and held for 114 days before being released, has won the inaugural Nick Clarke Award for the best broadcast interview of the year.
The award was set up in honour of the former presenter of BBC Radio 4's The World at One who died of cancer in November 2006 (See RNW Nov 24, 2006) and eight interviews were shortlisted (See RNW Sep 27).
The final judging panel was made up of former Radio 4 Today editor Kevin Marsh, Telegraph radio critic Gillian Reynolds, and March commented of the winning entry that it was "conducted in Nick's spirit, offering a rich radio experience of remarkable quality."
Two other interviews were commended - an interview with American soldier David Bellavia about the war in Iraq by Lyse Doucet, in "The Interview" on BBC World Service and an interview with David Mapstone, a former Sudanese army commander who spoke of the part he played in the war crimes in Darfur conducted by independent film maker Phil Cox for More4News on Channel 4 TV.
The award was announced at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.
2008-10-11: Melbourne stations performed strongly in this year's Australian Commercial Radio Awards presented today at a gala ceremony on the Gold Coast with Fox FM's The Hamish and Andy Show the big winner as Hamish Blake and Andy Lee took the award for Best-On Air team with the show also taking the Best Station Promotion award and Best On-Air Team Producer for Sam Cavanagh.
Other major awards included:
Best Talk Presenter - Neil Mitchell, 3AW Melbourne - for the third consecutive year.
Best Current Affairs Commentator - Derryn Hinch, 3AW Melbourne.
Best Sports Presenter - Ray Hadley, 2GB Sydney.
Best News Presenter - Steve Blanda, 2UE Sydney (AM) and Kristy Warner, Nova Sydney (FM) - for the second consecutive year.
Best Newcomer On-Air - Ian "Dicko" Dickson, Vega Melbourne.
Best Music Personality - Mike Fitzpatrick, Triple M, Melbourne.
Brian White Memorial Award for excellence in journalism - Laura Tunstall, 2GB, Sydney.
The awards are broken down into Country, Provincial, Non-Metropolitan and Metropolitan station categories and including these the winners were:
Best-On Air team:
Metropolitan - Hamish Blake and Andy Lee - (Hamish and Andy) of Fox FM, Melbourne (Austereo).
Provincial - Scott Masters and Nigel Johnson (Scotty and Nige for Breakfast) of FM 104.7, Canberra (ARN & Austereo).
Country - Jason Scheidl and Josh Torney (The Juice with Jase and Josh) of 96.1 Star FM, Mount Gambier, South Australia (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Best Talk Presenter:
Metropolitan - Neil Mitchell (3AW Morning), 3AW, Melbourne (Fairfax Radio Network).
Provincial - Mike Welsh (Mike Welsh Drive Show), 2CC, Canberra, (Capital Radio).
Country - Craig Huth, 2RE, Taree, New South Wales (Super Network).
Best Music Personality:
Metropolitan - Mike Fitzpatrick, Triple M, Melbourne (Austereo).
Provincial - Peter 'Scooter' Carter, Sea FM, Sunshine Coast, Queensland (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Country - Cameron Williams, 97.7 Snow FM, Cooma, New South Wales (Capital Radio).
Best Current Affairs Commentator:
Derryn Hinch, 3AW, Melbourne, (Fairfax Radio Network).
Brian White Memorial Award:
Laura Tunstall, 2GB, Sydney (Macquarie Radio Network).
Best Sports Presenter:
Metropolitan - Ray Hadley, 2GB Sports, 2GB, Sydney (Macquarie Radio Network).
Provincial - Steve Allan, 2GO Good Sports, 2GO FM 107.7, Gosford, New South Wales (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Country - Geoff Mann, 2DU Sports, 2DU, Dubbo, New South Wales (Super Network).
Best News Presenter:
Metropolitan - Kristy Warner, Nova 969, Sydney (DMG Radio Australia) - FM - and Steve Blanda, 2UE, Sydney (Fairfax Radio Network) - AM.
Provincial - Rod McLeod, 92.5 Gold FM, Gold Coast, Queensland (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Country - Lois Chislett, 3YB, Warrnambool, Victoria (ACE Radio Broadcasters).
Best Program Director:
Metropolitan - Jamie Angel, 2Day FM, Sydney (Austereo).
Provincial - Andrew Very, KO FM/ NX FM, Newcastle, New South Wales (Austereo).
Country - Damien 'Will' Willoughby, 93.5 Star FM, Dubbo, New South Wales (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Best Music Director:
Metropolitan - Kate Casey, Nova 106.9, Brisbane, Queensland (DMG Radio Australia).
Provincial - Olivia Belvedere, 90.9 Sea FM, Gold Coast, Queensland (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Country - Karina Singer, Sea FM, Maryborough, Queensland (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Best Show Producer - Entertainment & Music:
Metropolitan - Sam Cavanagh, The Hamish and Andy Show, Fox FM, Melbourne (Austereo).
Non-Metropolitan - Chae Rogan, The Bigger Breakfast, 96.5 Wave FM, Wollongong, New South Wales (Grant Broadcasting).
Best Show Producer - Talk & Current Affairs:
Metropolitan - Justin Smith, 3AW Mornings - Neil Mitchell, 3AW, Melbourne (Fairfax Radio Network).
Non Metropolitan - Michael Thompson, Mike Welsh Drive Show, 2CC, Canberra (Capital Radio).
Metropolitan - Remembrance Day, Sideshow Mike Andersen, Triple M, Sydney (Austereo).
Non Metropolitan - The Killer Highway, Brooklyn Hulands, 2EC/ Power FM, Bega, New South Wales (Grant Broadcasting).
Best Music Special:
Metropolitan - Jabba and Foo Fighters - Stefan Mitchell and Daniel Pearson, Nova 969, Sydney, (DMG Radio Australia.
Provincial - Blue Suede Cadillac - 51 Years of Elvis - Rob Sharples and Lachlan Kitchen, i98, Wollongong, New South Wales (Win Corporation)
Country - The Life and Times of Michael Hutchence, The Sea FM Morning Crew, Sea FM, Bundaberg, Queensland (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Best Sports Event Coverage:
Metropolitan - Melbourne's New Home of Footy, 1116 SEN Football, 1116 SEN, Melbourne (Victorian Radio Network).
Non Metropolitan - 2007 South West Football League Finals Series, Daniel Leach, 6TZ RadioWest, Bunbury, Western Australia (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Best Station Produced Commercial:
Metropolitan - QLD Racing 'Jockeys', Nathan Russell, Nova 106.9, Brisbane (DMG Radio Australia).
Provincial - Chooks Chickens - The Movies, Rob Sharples and Clinton James, i98, Wollongong, New South Wales (Win Corporation).
Country - Get the Right Translation - Books Plus, Katrina Brown and Christopher Baskerville, 1503 2BS Gold/ B-Rock FM 99.3, Bathurst, New South Wales (Bathurst Broadcasters)
Best Promotions Director:
Metropolitan - Kate Edwards, 2GB/ 2CH, Sydney, (Macquarie Radio Network).
Non Metropolitan - Tania Kimmins, i98, Wollongong, New South Wales (Win Corporation).
Best Station Promotion:
Metropolitan - Caravan of Courage, The Hamish and Andy Show, Fox FM, Melbourne (Austereo).
Provincial - NX FM's Save Wayne Campaign, NX FM Promotions Team, NX FM, Newcastle, New South Wales (Austereo).
Country - Counting Down the Countdowns, David Bauche and Louise Poole, 2NM, Muswellbrook, New South Wales (Grant Broadcasting).
Best Station Produced Comedy Segment:
Metropolitan - Help I'm An Ant, Matt Hale, 96 FM, Perth (Fairfax Radio Network).
Provincial - Organ Donation, Luke Bradnam, 102.9 FM, Gold Coast, Queensland (Hot Tomato).
Country - Ben Cousins Nasal Delivery, David Greensmith, Sea FM, Maryborough, Queensland (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Best Networked Program:
Metropolitan - The Hamish and Andy Show, Today Network (Austereo).
Provincial - The Benchwarmers, Ant and Becks, (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Country - The Dirty 30, Trent McCurdy, (ACE Radio Broadcasters).
Best Syndicated Australian Program:
Cover to Cover, MCM Entertainment, Melbourne.
Best Station Sales Achievement:
Metropolitan - Radio 4BC Sales Team, 4BC, Brisbane (Fairfax Radio Network).
Provincial - Flow FM Sales Team, Flow FM, Kapunda, South Australia (W&L Phillips).
Country - Esperance Radio Centre, 747 RadioWest, Esperance, Western Australia (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Best Agency Salesperson:
Metropolitan - Melody Rowe, Mix 102.3, Adelaide (Australian Radio Network).
Non Metropolitan - Paul Friend, Sydney, (Regional Mediaworks, Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Best Direct Salesperson:
Metropolitan - Sean Jenkins, Nova 969, Sydney (DMG Radio Australia).
Provincial - Michelle Imbruglia, 90.9 Sea FM, Gold Coast, Queensland (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Country - Jenni Puccini, 6MM/ Coast FM, Mandurah, Western Australia (West Coast Radio).
Best Sales Promotion:
Metropolitan - Unilever 'Win a Desperate Housewives House' Promotion, Scott Player, 2Day FM, Sydney (Austereo).
Provincial - Sea FM's Brain Freeze with McDonald's Frozen Coke, 90.9 Sea FM, Gold Coast, Queensland (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Country - Mount Gambier 4 Hour Sale, Rosangela Crispino, 5SE/ 96.1 Star FM, Mount Gambier, South Australia (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Best Community Service Project:
Metropolitan - Girls Bike Convoy, Merrick Watts, Tim Ross, Kate Ritchie, Tim Dwyer and Emily Murch, Nova 969, Sydney (DMG Radio Australia).
Provincial - Marty and Erica's Camp Quality Convoy for Kids, Marty Haynes, Erica Hodge and Tania Kimmins, i98, Wollongong, New South Wales (Win Corporation).
Country - Plasma For A Plasma, Liana Lambert and Stephany Winter, Sea FM, Bundaberg, Queensland (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Best Achievement In Production:
Metropolitan - Sideshow Mike Andersen, Triple M, Sydney (Austereo).
Provincial - Mike Young, The Edge 96.1, Western Sydney, (Australian Radio Network).
Country - Trent McCurdy, 3WM/ Mixx FM, Horsham, Victoria (ACE Radio Broadcasters).
Metropolitan - Bryan Amos, Playout System Remote Audio Import System, Triple M Network (Austereo).
Non Metropolitan - John Pearce, Paperless Creative Production, Sea FM 101.3/ 2GO FM 107.7, Gosford, New South Wales (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Best Multimedia Execution - Sales:
The Thank You Project, Eric Stephens and Claudine Hall, Mix FM Network (Australian Radio Network).
Best Multimedia Execution - Station:
Matt and Jo's Nude Wedding, Fox FM 101.9, Melbourne (Austereo).
Most Popular Station Manager:
Metropolitan - Richard Barker, B105/ Triple M, Brisbane (Austereo).
Provincial - John Williams, Sea FM/ 92.7 Mix FM, Sunshine Coast, Queensland (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Country - Paul Gadsen, 3SH/ Mixx FM, Swan Hill, Victoria (ACE Radio Broadcasters).
Best Newcomer On-Air:
Metropolitan - Ian 'Dicko' Dickson, Vega 91.5, Melbourne (DMG Radio Australia).
Provincial - Brad Blissett, Sea FM, Sunshine Coast, Queensland (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Country - Simone Jade Kelly, FM 104.7, Grafton, New South Wales (Super Network).
Best Newcomer Off-Air:
Metropolitan - Jacqueline Levett, 2UE, Sydney (Fairfax Radio Network).
Provincial - Rebecca Bell, 92.7 Mix FM, Sunshine Coast, Queensland (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Country - Josie Hand, 93.5 Star FM, Dubbo, New South Wales (Macquarie Southern Cross Media).
Previous ACRAs (2007)
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2008-10-10: UK Channel 4 has dropped its radio plans and told the regulator Ofcom that it is pulling out of 4 Digital Group, the consortium which was awarded a licence for the second national commercial DAB radio multiplex last year, a move that not only makes its radio the first major casualty of the current economic woes but could also hit UK digital radio hard. Channel 4 had been due to launch the first of four planned stations - E4 Radio - next spring but since they won the multiplex UK commercial radio has significantly cut back on its digital radio activities including GCap closing down The Jazz and selling Planet Rock, which is currently the only national commercial station not available on analogue.
Ofcom said it "recognizes that the economic environment is very challenging and that all organizations need to make decisions in light of the circumstances they face" and adds that it will meet other members of the group - they are Bauer Digital Radio Limited, Carphone Warehouse Group plc, Sky News Radio Limited, Global Radio Ltd, UTV Radio (GB) Limited and UBC Media Group plc. - "over the next few days to discuss how they propose to take matters forward."
It adds, "Ofcom is also in discussions with other multiplex operators and the BBC, to consider how best to secure a viable outcome which is in the interests of radio listeners and the industry."
The Channel 4 bid won the multiplex against a rival bid from National Grid Wireless (NGW) - subsequently taken over by takeover by Macquarie bank's Macquarie UK Broadcast Ventures Limited (MUKBV, which owns rival Arqiva (See RNW Mar 12) whose partners included the BBC (See RNW Mar 29, 2007).
Channel 4, which had been sounding warning notes about its finances and had already announced that was to cut around 150 posts (See RNW Sep 23) had not posted any details of the implications for its radio executives on its site when we last checked, although it has said it will try to redeploy the 15 staff in the radio division.
They include its head of music Alex Donnelly, a former head of music at BBC Radio 1; General Manager 4 Radio Michael Hill, former Managing Editor at BBC Radio Five Live; former BBC Radio 2 controller Jim Moir, now a member of its editorial development committee; Chair of 4 Digital Group & New Business and Corporate Development Director and former Channel 4 Director of Radio Nathalie Schwarz; and former BBC Radio Five live controller Bob Shennan who took up his post as Director of Radio for Channel 4 in April this year.
Channel 4 chief executive, Andy Duncan said they had taken the decision "with enormous frustration and reluctance" in the context "of the current economic downturn" adding to the UK Guardian, "We've pursued our radio plans in good faith and continue to believe DAB has a strong future and that we could make a return from radio in the medium term. Frustratingly, our plans have been overtaken by a drastic recent downturn in our revenues and we will have to forgo this future profit stream. We can no longer afford the short-term investment necessary given that we are having to cut so deeply across all parts of the organisation."
The Guardian has posted audio (a stream or 28 min 26 Mb MP3) of a special Media Talk edition on the decision and potential impact on digital broadcasting in the UK including comments from Duncan.
Previous Channel 4:
UK Guardian Media Talk - carries link to audio:
2008-10-10: Both the New Jersey and New York state attorney generals' offices have now launched lawsuits against Arbitron over the introduction of its Portable People Meter (PPM ratings) system that minority broadcasters have claimed is harming their businesses because it misrepresents minority listening.
Arbitron, which had already gone to Federal Court in New York to oppose anticipated action by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (See RNW Oct 6) has now taken similar action in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, seeking a "declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against the New Jersey Attorney General to prevent any attempt to restrain Arbitron's publication of its Portable People Meter listening estimates."
It acknowledged the New Jersey action, which alleges violations of New Jersey "consumer fraud, advertising and anti-discrimination laws" relating to the marketing and commercialization in New Jersey of the PPM radio ratings service, and said it "denies all such allegations and intends to defend itself and its interests vigorously."
A release by New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram's office said use of the unaccredited PPM service notes the use of PPM methodology that "was denied accreditation by the Media Ratings Council" and says its lawsuit "describes the PPM system as unreliable and fraught with 'flaws that undercount radio listeners in certain racial and ethnic groups.'"
It also "charges Arbitron with engaging in deceptive business practices by failing to disclose important flaws identified in the PPM method, including shortcomings in its accuracy, and its documented under-representation of young listeners, as well as African-American and Latino listeners" and says this under-representation "causes those populations to receive an inferior service compared with non-minority populations."
Arbitron it says, engaged in "unconscionable business practices by using its radio rating monopoly to discontinue its former, accredited measurement product and forcing broadcasters and advertisers to use ratings data derived from a PPM system 'that is not accredited and possesses significant methodological flaws.'"
Milgram commented, "The existence and survival of radio stations is premised on advertising revenue, and advertisers rely heavily on Arbitron's ratings in deciding where to place advertisements. The state's position is that these new, unreliable ratings being generated by Arbitron severely harm those radio stations serving minorities, as well as minority listeners themselves."
The New York lawsuit follows a letter sent to Arbitron earlier this month warning of its intention to file suit unless shown why it should not do so before the schedules October 8 introduction of PPM ratings (See RNW Oct 3), a letter to which Arbitron responded by going to court to seek an injunction to stop action against it and also by bringing forward its release of PPM date (See RNW Oct 6).
Cuomo said of the move, "Arbitron's rush to commercialize the PPM system without curing known flaws in the service distorts the marketplace, and threatens to drive minority broadcasters out of business. Arbitron must refrain from using this flawed product in New York until it is truly a reliable and fair service."
His lawsuit, which amongst other things seeks restitution to minority broadcasters of any PPM-related losses in revenue and cure the alleged flaws, accuses Arbitron amongst other things of failing to cure or to disclose "key flaws" in PPM methodology including panel selection processes that "disproportionately exclude African Americans and Latinos."
2008-10-10: Intelematics is today demonstrating its new free-to-air service that lets radio stations deliver traffic flow information snapshots directly to motorists' digital radios, including time taken to travel along motorways and major arterial roads.
The demonstration took place at the 2008 Australian National Radio Conference on the Gold Coast and the service is expected to launch next year when Australian digital radio is launched in the country's five capital cities - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
The information is delivered within a participating station's digital signal and comes from accessing raw traffic flow data from a network of sensors embedded in the road that allows the company to deliver real travel time information along major city arterials.
Intelematics Chief Executive Officer Adam Game said the flexibility of digital radio meant the service could be used a wide variety of ways, commenting in a release, "A radio station broadcasting commentary for a football final could send through information on traffic conditions around the ground for those travelling to the game. Other potential applications include daily travel time information on popular roads or alerts when significant accidents or other incidents occur."
Joan Warner, Chief Executive Officer of industry body Commercial Radio Australia said the Intelematics service was a good example of the innovation that could be provided free to air by digital radio, commenting, "Intelematics is developing a service that will have real benefit to radio audiences and highlight the capability of digital radio to deliver unique and innovative information streams at no cost to the listener. The adoption of DAB+, a superior new technology that will enable radio stations to multichannel as well as broadcast a variety of multimedia and interactive programming, further positions Australia as a leader in digital radio broadcasting."
Also on display at the Conference today are the talents of the three winners of the Australian commercial radio industry's 2008 New Artist 2 Radio (NA2R) initiative.
The three winners this year are Boston Shaker (rock category); Ashleigh Mannix (pop category) and Emma-Louise (adult contemporary category).
They will be on stage before radio industry leaders tonight with one act chosen to perform at tomorrow's 20th annual Australian Commercial Radio Awards (ACRAs). The winners were chosen on the basis of each act's perceived commercial radio potential from a record entry of some 200 artists by a panel including top commercial radio network program and music directors and a representative of VGM Media & Marketing and MGM Distribution as well as MySpace.
The winners share an AUD 150,000 ( USD 102,000) prize of advertising across the four major Australian east coast commercial radio networks and may also be added to the playlists of selected radio stations from early next year.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2008-10-10: Emmis has reported second quarter revenues to the end of August down 1.5% on a year ago to USD 94.2 million with pro forma radio net revenues down 1.7%, within which domestic radio net revenues were down 8.4%, and pro forma publishing net revenues down 6.6%.
Operating income was flat at USD 17.1 million and station operating income fell from USD 26.5 million to USD 26.4 million with international radio net revenues of USD 14.9 million up 38% on a pro forma basis.
Company income from continuing operations was down 25% to USD 2.84 million; Net income available to common shareholders fell 89.5% to USD 1.24 million and net income per common share halved from four cents to two cents with net income available to common shareholders down from 31 cents to three cents per share.
Putting a positive spin to the results chairman, president and CEO Jeff Smulyan in a company release referred to the half year results rather than the second quarter, commenting, "Our team at Emmis continues to deliver during these challenging times for the U.S. economy. We delivered 2 percent growth in operating income during the first six months of the fiscal year based in no small part on the explosive growth in our international operations. During the second quarter, net revenue at our radio operations in Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Belgium grew an amazing 38 percent. This type of performance, coupled with responsible actions to manage our expenses and balance sheet, position Emmis well to benefit from the U.S. economy's inevitable recovery."
Emmis noted that during the quarter it completed the sale of its last TV station - WVUE in New Orleans - for USD 41 million taking gross proceeds from the TV sale to USD 1.24 billion and that it also received USD 3.1 million as a final settlement of its business interruption claim due to Hurricane Katrina's impact on the station. On the publishing side it noted suspension during the quarter of the magazine Tu Ciudad Los Angeles because its financial performance was not up to expectations.
Following the end of the quarter Emmis says it began a programme - using some of the cash from the WVUE sale and possibly common stock - to pay quarterly bonuses to 64 employees to offset temporary salary reductions. It adds that the employees will be receiving the same amount of pay but the structure operating costs under the terms of its credit agreement.
In other US radio business Lincoln Financial Group has announced preliminary third quarter results, concentrating its attention on demonstrating liquidity: it says it expects net income in the range of USD 120 million to USD 180 million- USD 0.50 to USD 0.70 per diluted share: It did not break down the figures and made no comment on its radio operations.
In addition CBS Corporation, which also did not break down the figures, has updated its financial guidance, saying the continued US economic slowdown has "adversely affected advertising revenues across the Company's businesses, primarily at the local level, and the effects of the current financial crisis are likely to cause further declines in advertising spending."
It now expects third quarter revenue to grow by around 3% over last year with adjusted diluted earnings to be from 42 to 44 cents compared to 51 cents a year ago. It adds that it is performing an interim impairment test on goodwill and other intangible assets and expects to incur a non-cash impairment charge of around USD 14 billion during the quarter.
Previous Lincoln Financial:
2008-10-09: Australian metropolitan advertising revenues in the first quarter of this financial year were down 0.52% on a year ago to AUD 164.7 million (USD 112.4 million), the first fall for several years according to figures from the 2008 Metropolitan Commercial Radio Advertising Revenue report, sourced by Deloitte.
The figures released by industry body Commercial Radio Australia show a mixed picture with Sydney down 5.5% to AUD 54.1 million (USD 26.9 million); Adelaide down 2.7% to AUD 14.9 million (USD 10.2 million); Melbourne up 0.66% to AUD 47.3 million (USD 32.3 million); Brisbane up 0.99% to AUD 26.3 million (USD 18.0 million) and Perth up 10.9% to AUD 21.9 million (USD 14.9 million).
Commercial Radio Australia chief Executive Joan Warner said the picture was patchy not just geographically but also month by month with July figures approximately even; August 5% down; and September around 2% down. The figures were affected by the impact of the Olympics on Sydney's revenues, typically around a third of the total and thought to have been down around 9% in August, and also by the effect of a fall off in political advertising - Australia had federal elections on November 24 last year, preceded by a six-week campaign
Warner said the figures showed a steady performance given economic uncertainty and tough times for business, saying, "The metropolitan radio ad revenue continues to be resilient in what are tougher economic times and a period of uncertainty. Some markets like Perth have continued to perform strongly in the first three months of the financial year and some like Sydney continue to be a challenge."
"Radio is a very resilient advertising medium and has performed well in times of tough economic circumstances so the industry is positive about the coming months," she added, continuing, "However, the radio industry must continue to be innovative and lead the way in developing new opportunities for attracting advertising revenue. The link between radio and online continues to present significant opportunities for commercial radio stations this year as does the launch of digital radio early next year."
One person in the industry who seems to have escaped the effects of an economic downturn so far is top-rated Sydney talk host Alan Jones. According to a filing from Macquarie Radio Network (MRN), Jones received an AUD 4.5 million (USD 3.1 million) payment for shares in his new package after agreeing a five-year extension to his deal with the station that now runs to June 2013.
The filing to the Australian Securities Exchange says, "The term sheet contemplates that Mr Jones will continue as 2GB's breakfast shift program host during the extended life of the agreement."
It adds in relation to Jones share option, "The term sheet also contemplates cancellation of the existing 11,251,395 options over shares in MRN held by Hadiac Pty Limited, an associate of Mr Jones, for AUD 0.40 per option payable by MRN, and the issue of 4 million new options that relate to the extension term. The new options will be subject to certain performance vesting hurdles but will not carry any economic or voting rights."
The figures in this amount to an AUD 4.5 million for the options he received on joining 2GB in 2002 although the exercise price of the options was thought to be above the AUD 0.40 price at which MRN's shares last traded.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
Previous Macquarie Radio Network:
2008-10-09: Clear Channel Radio has launched a service "iheartradio" that will make ten of its station streams including their streamed adverts available to users of the iPhone, iPhone 3G, and Wi-Fi capable iPod Touch.
The application is named after Clear Channel's beta music site at www.iheartradio.com and initial stations on offer include Alternative WWDC-FM, Washington; hits WHTZ-FM, New York and KIIS-FM, Los Angeles; News/Talk KTRH-FM, Houston; Sports KFAN-AM, Minneapolis; and Internet stations erockster and Pride Radio.
Its EVP Evan Harrison, who is also President of the company's Online Music & Radio unit, in a memo to staffers says a few new stations are then to be added every week with a new version likely to launch later this year.
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-10-09: Former WWNNK-FM, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania radio host Bruce Bond has been jailed for a term of two and a third to seven years for defrauding the Federal Communications Commission, Bard College and others of USD 4.3 million in a forged cheque scheme.
Bond had pleaded guilty last month to second-degree grand larceny, identity theft and possession of forgery devices: He had sent bogus checks drawn on corporate accounts to work-at-home job seekers who had replied to Craigslist ads and prosecutors say the recipients cashed the checks, kept 10 percent, and sent the rest to Bond's accomplices in Europe and Nigeria who then sent Bond his cut.
2008-10-08: Amidst all the economic woes, woes that we suspect will make it impossible for quite a few radio companies to keep their listings unless the rules are relaxed by the exchanges, last week's crop of comments added to the woe rather than offering succour.
Taking the campaign - one that we think is a misbegotten interference in the market place, that of the National Association of Broadcasters, iBiquity et al to push inclusion of HD radio chips in all US radio and also mobile devices, Jerry Del Colliano in his Insidemusicmedia blog seemed to think it was worse than useless.
He commented of a report suggesting that within five years every portable device could be equipped with a radio chip, "Radio interests are pandering to the regulators telling them that putting radios in cell phones will solve a lot of problems pertaining to emergency notification. All this is wonderful, but the proponents have forgotten one thing -- the mobile phone user."
Del Colliano didn't get into the power consumption of HD chips (See our report below and imagine having to explain to a mobile phone user why his battery life had gone down dramatically and the response this is likely to achieve in terms of being positive about radio) but continued, "The preponderance of mobile phone users are young -- many Gen Y or even younger -- and, forgive me for having to say it again -- they don't like radio.
"Putting a radio chip in a cell phone," he continued, "is tantamount to putting a newspaper in the phone. I wish it were that simple, but it will be useless. Young people who won't listen to radio now, are not going to listen to it on their precious mobile devices. Only an out of touch generation of radio executives could conclude that a chip on a cell phone will make things better."
He then also contrasted Pandora - "a customizable "radio station" that learns from interactive listener input what their music tastes are" and "a non-customizable radio station."
Del Colliano then went on to comment critically of the industry: "Experience is out. Good programming is not possible without outstanding people and most of the radio groups -- even the ones formerly known as good ones -- are programming on the cheap. Syndication, regionalization and duplication are in. Barter the time period and really cut costs. Pay one jock to be on several stations -- that will turn on the bean counters. Rebroadcast a day part in a later day part."
[Put that way it doesn't sound so attractive a medium!}
Del Colliano also had a bash over the Portable People Meter fracas commenting that a "number of influential executives obviously are intimidated by the digital future" and said of the PPM's detractors, "Hispanic and other radio broadcasters have real concerns, but they are still sounding moronic and selfish on this issue."
After much more he comments, "Radio executives are proving once again that they have found yet another way to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory."
NAB also got short shrift from Mark Ramsey of Hear 2.-0 over its "Radio Heard Here" campaign.
Of the spots he commented, "They're the perfect gift for that radio station in your family that is already running a slew of free HD Radio spots and is hungry for more. Because after all, listeners love hearing advertising so why not air it for free! At this rate, radio will be 'all pro bono, all the time.'"
Pushing the idea into parody he continued, "Not content to let radio have all the fun, the newspaper industry has announced that they will run full page head-scratchers "Newspapers read here" and the new NBC "bug" will read "The Office watched here." Because a good idea is defined as one everyone adopts and nobody considers first."
He concluded of his views, " my interest is that we as an industry focus on our opportunities to grow and thrive in the future, not fritter away our attention and energy on ridiculous and distracting black holes which are designed less to propel radio forward and more to justify NAB's role as the industry's symbolic leader of last resort. I'll take real progress over vacant and wasteful PR manipulation that serves no useful purpose whatsoever, especially when it is ultimately destined to fail while distracting an entire industry from what it really needs to do to win. Maybe you call that negative. I call it smart."
Then from David Matz on Northernstar the ultimate question: "Is there a need for a traditional radio anymore?"
Matz comments, "Unless listening to talk programs, I find that traditional radios are pointless. I personally abandoned radio about a year ago when I realized there's nothing new on it. All the pop stations (103.5 Kiss FM and B96) play the same songs as the Top 40 charts, but repeat them at an obnoxious rate. If I want to find all the new songs, I can check the Top 40 chart online without wasting my time with radio's commercials."
And later, "In the past, the radio was always there to find what was new in the music world, but now with the internet and MP3 players, what good is the radio when everyone can now personalize their playlist and find music to their likings by themselves? It's not just MP3 players either, but Internet, radio and satellite radio is also taking over the traditional frequencies. These other selections offer all the answers to traditional radio, all of which have specified playlists, fewer commercials, and enough stations to tune into anyone's preference."
And finally before moving away from US blogs, del Colliano's latest suggesting what Congress might require if it were to rescue the radio industry rather than the financial one. It contains suggestions such as freezing radio CEO salaries; linking executive remuneration to shareholder value; allow only certified PDs to make content decisions; requiring acceptance of regulation in such areas as having real live people at local station; Stop HD radio " Want cash, stop wasting yours."; "Each group CEO has to answer questions in front of both the House and Senate committees overseeing bailouts."
On then to why we still listen to radio - it's not pop music and indeed we share much of Matz's view concerning listening to music on advertising-funded radio: Apart from allowing time to make a cup of tea or coffee during the commercials, we find little merit in most of it as few DJs add to knowledge or offer intellectual stimulus.
There are exceptions - fortunately being in the UK the Dylan Theme Hours are available from BBC 6 Music and Radio 2 and the various BBC stations offer some intelligent comments about music by various DJs - the Internet obviously allows for a much greater choice if there is time to look for things.
Also on offer however are a lot of windows into new perspectives and knowledge as a dip through any week's offerings of podcasts from three of our staples - the Australia Broadcasting Corporation, BBC and Radio Netherlands quickly shows and we still have time for a regular dip into WNYC's "On the Media" and Will-AM's "Media Matters" together with forays into National Public Radio's news programming.
Taking BBC World Service documentaries first the current podcasts on offer include both parts of Owen Bennett-Jones' look at al Qaeda in "Is al Qaeda Winning?" and also Parts 1 & 2 of "Children of the Revolution", a look at Iran after the revolution hat overthrew the Shah (admittedly of some personal interest because of time spent in Tehran whilst the US hostages were being held).
Then for anyone interested in Africa, Radio Netherland's "Bridges from Africa" offers programmes running back to April and including reports ranging from reports on athletes preparing for the Olympics through such topics as various reports on abuses of human rights, the activities of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a court hearing on a toxic waste case in the Ivory Coast ; an interview with former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda about AIDS and Zimbabwe and various reports on Zimbabwe before and after the elections.
Then from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National, which keeps the last four editions of most of its weekly programmes on the site - seven days of the daily ones - there's a wide range of reports on topics such as science (The Science Show and Ockham's Razor - mainly shorter reports in the former - try "Magic helps children's confidence" from Sept 27" - and rather longer from the latter - try last Sunday's "Good bugs gone bad" in which Science journalist Dr Peter Lavelle from ABC Health Online looks at the history of disease; Religion - The Religion Report and Spirit of Things - current downloads from the first include two reports on Critical Terrorism Studies and also reports on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Nazis - and from the last include last Sunday's programme on the festivals of Sukkot and Diwali; Politics and the Law - try last Sunday's "Background Briefing" on the remittances sent home by migrant workers, some USD 500 billion a year, much of which travels through informal channels and this Tuesday's "The Law Report"- "Inside the minds of murderers and sex offenders" featuring NZ clinical psychologist Nigel Latta talking about his work with murderers and paedophiles., work he says he continues to carry out because it's the only way to prevent re-offending.
We'd also suggest a wider dip into the BBC's rang of podcasts - regulars for us include the Friday comedy clot (currently featuring The News Quiz"), and various business programmes.
RNW note: We will try and update with some other suggestions from BBC programming we have hard this week that is available through the listen-again feature as a stream but not as a podcast, somethign that applies to pretty well all music for copyright reasons..
Hear2.0 - Ramsey:
Insidemusicmedia - Del Colliano:
Northernstar - Matz:
2008-10-08: iBiquity is claiming an "important milestone" for is HD radio with more than a million radio modules now manufactured for retail radio receivers using the Texas Instruments DRI Series chipsets and more than 1.5 million chipsets shipped led by the TI DRI series and NXP 3550 and 3555.
The company somewhat diminishes the scale of the achievement in a quote by Brian Fortman, Product Manager, TI Automotive Media Systems, in which he says, "Over 235 million Americans listen to the radio every week and each day, more of them are listening to HD Radio products enabled by our chips." [RNW note: For the mathematically challenged this suggests that HD now had a market penetration of rather less than 0.5% of US radio receivers, assuming that all the 235 million possess only one radio].
In all says iBiquity more than a hundred "discrete HD Radio products in a broad range of categories have been certified over the last several years by iBiquity in Columbia, Maryland, Intertek in Hong Kong and TOKO in Japan."
iBiquity COO Jeff Jury said the figures reflect "the continual growth of the HD Radio market" and provide "a solid base for the growing number of new HD Radio products available to consumers."
He added, "More importantly, as next generation products come to market, there has been a significant drop in product development and production time. Many products are going through this cycle in less than six months, contributing to the rapid growth of products coming to market. The HD Radio market is growing rapidly, and we are working with leading manufacturers and brands around the world to bring high-quality products to consumers who are demanding more from their radios."
Amongst manufacturers selling HD equipment iBiquity lists Accurian, Alpine, Audio Design Associates, Audiovox, Cambridge Soundworks, DaySequerra, Denon, DICE Electronics, Directed Electronics, Dual, Eclipse, Insignia, Integra, JBL, Jensen Mobile, Jensen, JVC Mobile, jWIN, Kenwood, Marantz, McIntosh, Metra, Niles, Onkyo, Panasonic, Peripheral Electronics (AAMP), Polk Audio, Radiosophy, Roadmaster, Rotel, Sangean, Sanyo, Sony, Visteon and Yamaha with automakers offering factory-installation of HD including BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Lincoln, Mercedes, MINI, Mercury, Scion and Volvo.
iBiquity has also announced that it is offering its licensed HD Radio developers a reference platform for low-cost, low-power, battery-powered portable HD Radio products. The design will be demonstrated for the first time at the Hong Kong Electronics Show and the package includes schematics, bill-of-material, layout and software.
The company says the reference platform is based on Samsung EM's Core-CR module measuring 20.0 x 13.0 x 2.3mm with a total power consumption of 210mW, allowing for 15 hours of continuous operation. The portable HD Radio unit uses an Atmel AVR32 (AT32UC3A) as its host microprocessor and the portable reference platform has support for MP3, USB On-The-Go, and an SD card interface with a monochrome graphic LCD 128 x 64. It uses 2 AA alkaline batteries for power.
RNW note: As a comparison, Frontier Silicon's Chorus 2 line a year ago used around 70mW in its 1.2V DAB decoder and the company said at the time that it expected to soon be within 20% of FM demodulator consumption of 30 or 60mW depending on the voltage.
Regrettably receiver manufacturers are rather keener on promoting low power consumption as a feature of their equipment than giving any actual figures other than hours of listening for a set of batteries.
2008-10-08: British broadcaster Bob Friend has died from cancer at the age of 70: He was best known as one of the original presenters for the Sky News satellite channel in the UK - and also for cameo appearances in the movies Independence Day and Mission Impossible.
Friend, who began his journalistic career aged 15 as a cub reporter for the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser in Kent, worked in newspapers for nine years before moving to BBC radio as a reporter in 1969, reporting for the flagship Today programme from Northern Ireland. He also reported for a short spell from Vietnam and in 1973 moved to Australia as the BBC's first correspondent in the country, later moving to Japan for for it. In 1982 he joined the BBC TV Breakfast Time programme as its New York correspondent.
He moved to Sky for its launch in 1989, remaining with it until October 2003, a year when he marked 50 years in journalism and also received an MBE for services to broadcasting.
Sky News paying tribute to him quoted News Corporation chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch as saying he was a "a distinguished journalist and an admired broadcaster" who was "was quick to understand the power of non-stop programming."
Sky News report:
2008-10-08: UK Guardian Media Group Radio has made London Smooth Radio programme controller Gavin McCoy redundant as part of what the UK Guardian, which has the same parent, notes is part of a management restructuring that makes his role redundant.
The paper says his departure follows the hiring of former Global Radio executive Paul Fairburn as station director and in a statement GMG Radio commented, "Paul Fairburn, the station director, has a wealth of programming experience after 20 years spent in commercial radio programming and management roles ... and he will continue to take responsibility for the strategic management of the on-air sound and talent at 102.2 Smooth Radio in addition to his station director duties."
Previous Guardian Media Group:
UK Guardian report:
2008-10-07: The fight between supporters and opponents of Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings has continued with the company sticking to its guns and re-affirming that the ratings it released on Monday - two days earlier than scheduled (See RNW Oct 6 ) - will remain currency and also saying the July and August PPM "pre-currency" information it released should be used as "currency" data whilst New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office, whose plan to take legal action over the PPM introduction in New York was pre-empted by the early release, attacked the early release as "an affront to racial and ethnic minorities in New York and around the country."
Cuomo's office cautioned "all advertisers and broadcasters against using these prematurely released ratings as we believe they are flawed and will be the subject of ongoing litigation "and said the company's "unwillingness to defend the validity of their system on its merits proves it places its own economic incentives over the interests of minority broadcasting."
"As a monopolist," it added, Arbitron owes consumers an explanation for its decision to force feed the PPM system to broadcasters. Their irresponsible decision threatens the existence of diversity in radio and muzzles the voices and viewpoints of millions of Americans. Obviously, the Attorney General's Office will continue to seek justice in this case."
Arbitron has responded with a news release in which it says the PPM ratings released on Monday are "the actionable and timely estimates that the radio advertising industry needs in order to conduct its business " and its president, chairman and chief executive officer Stephen Morris commented, "Radio broadcasters, agencies and advertisers independently determine whether or not to subscribe to Arbitron's services and can freely decide how they wish to use our services in their business transactions. Our goal with the commercialization of the PPM is to help radio remain competitive in an increasingly challenging media marketplace."
Arbitron has also been defending the PPM in a reply comment to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in connection with the PPM Coalition's call for an investigation of the PPM by the agency.
In an 88 page response it says the comments submitted by the PPM Coalition "substantially misapprehend the process used by the Media Rating Council, Inc. (the "MRC") to review and accredit audience measurement services, as well as the limitations imposed by our nation's antitrust laws on that process" and adds that they "mischaracterize and overstate the differences between the PPM methodology that the MRC previously accredited for use in Houston and the PPM methodology - known as "Radio First" - that is now commercialized in eight additional markets."
"In criticizing various aspects of Radio First," says Arbitron, the PPM Coalition "overlook the fact that many of the features of Radio First at which their criticisms are directed are identical to features inherent in Arbitron's decades-only diary-based audience measurement service, which has long been accredited by the MRC and which produces audience estimates that Petitioners much prefer over the estimates produced by Radio First."
It also comments (some might say nit-picks) about various statements by the PPM Coalition that it says are inaccurate such as the contention that the decision to commercialize Radio First without accreditation in even one market was "unprecedented" and cites as an example Nielsen Media Research's Local People Meter service, which was commercialized after accreditation was denied and even in some markets before an MRC audit.
It also says that arguments by PPM opponents that "the continued commercialization of Radio First will result in financial devastation for minority-owned and/or minority-targeted radio stations, is simply not borne out by actual experience to date with Radio First" and adds, "In a detailed, market-by-market, format-by-format, station-by-station analysis, Arbitron shows herein that various stations in the newly-commercialized Radio First markets having different formats have experienced reported gains in their audience share estimates and rankings, while other stations in those markets with similar formats have experienced losses."
Whilst most comments over the early PPM introduction were negative Arbitron received backing in another reply comment filing to the FCC by a group of broadcasters - Bonneville, Buckley Radio Group, CBS Radio, Citadel, Emmis, Entercom, Greater Media, Lincoln Financial, and Megamedia - who support the introduction of the PPM. This group say that "Arbitron has "convincingly demonstrated that the [commission] lacks jurisdiction to review the PPM Coalition's claims and initiate the requested inquiry ", says they "strongly agree with Arbitron" and urge the commission to "refrain from interjecting itself into what are, at the core, private disagreements between Arbitron and the PPM Coalition members."
Ranked against Arbitron are amongst others the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA); Cuomo's office; The PPM Coalition; and the National Association of Black Broadcasters (NABOB); with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and the Leadership Council on Civil Rights also supporting the call for an FCC investigation.
The AHAA's chairman Jose Lopez-Varela said "The reckless irresponsibility of Arbitron's release of PPM without addressing the methodology and sampling issues is reprehensible" and added that is was "an economic travesty to consider that an entire industry of cultural radio broadcasters may be wiped out because Arbitron executives wanted to collect their reward for an on-time launch rather than improve ratings accuracy."
Some Spanish-language stations he said had seen ratings and revenues fall by 50% to 70% with the PPM and Isabella Sanchez, the Tapestry SVP who heads the AHAA's PPM Task Force, added, "As an industry, we support the move to a more precise measurement tool in PPM. What we don't support is the misrepresentation of Latino listeners and the potential downfall of Spanish-language radio should Arbitron not improve the sample. We will continue pushing Arbitron to solve the issues so that they do get the sample right. In the meantime, we will all be working closely with our clients so that they don't get the impression that the new PPM numbers are reflective of what is happening in radio listening."
The AHAA is part of the PPM Coalition as is NABOB whose Executive Director Jim Winston commented, "Arbitron has decided to turn the PPM issue into trench warfare. The onslaught of press releases issued by Arbitron today makes clear that they have no intention of fixing the problems with PPM. Instead, Arbitron is attempting to block the New York Attorney General from engaging in the kind of independent review the PPM needs." He added that the news release by Arbitron that gave some figures for PPM numbers for urban and Spanish-language stations was "disingenuous"; was "obviously intended to give the public the impression that the NABOB stations have no valid complaint about PPM" and was "deceptive and misleading in failing to provide a full and accurate picture of the continuing rating declines faced by Urban formatted stations under the PPM system."
The PPM Coalition itself, which termed Arbitron a "completely unregulated monopoly" said it was "outraged" by the early launch of a "flawed PPM system" and said the action was "in blatant disregard to the concerns from dozens of entities including the radio industry, advertisers, the New York Attorney General's office, members of Congress, civil rights organizations, minority-owned stations, and community leaders."
"The implementation of PPM," it added, "will have a tremendous negative impact on minority communities nationwide. Arbitron's defective system reports inaccurate listenership data, which in turn drives lower advertiser rates, making it difficult for ethnic and urban stations to survive. The unaccredited methodology will severely damage the diversity of voices and viewpoints on our nation's radio airwaves, posing a significant threat to minority communities with the potential to have a devastating impact on local economies."
Cuomo's office as well as cautoning against use of the ratings added, "Arbitron's unwillingness to defend the validity of their system on its merits proves it places its own economic incentives over the interests of minority broadcasting. As a monopolist, Arbitron owes consumers an explanation for its decision to force feed the PPM system to broadcasters. Their irresponsible decision threatens the existence of diversity in radio and muzzles the voices and viewpoints of millions of Americans. Obviously, the Attorney General's Office will continue to seek justice in this case."
Previous Media Rating Council:
2008-10-07: Sentinel Content and industry body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) have announced that they have successfully conducted live demonstration broadcasts of real-time traffic information on digital radio, which is to launch in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth in May next year.
Sentinel, an Australian live content and service provision company, has been working closely with CRA since March this year to access and develop the first live Australian demonstration of traffic reports and other traveller information broadcast over Transport Protocol Experts Group (TPEG) Traffic using digital radio technology and a demonstration service will be shown at this year's National Radio Conference on the Gold Coast on Friday.
Sentinel Content's General Manager, Danny Woolard said the service offers much more than just traffic information, commenting, "Through the next generation of digital radios, the information we can provide to people on the move will allow them to plan the best time to leave and what route to take to a destination, taking into account traffic incidents, road-works, travel times and road safety information. You will also get real-time petrol pricing, not just where you are, but where you are going. And when you get there you can get information ahead of time about how many parking spots are left in a car park as well as accommodation pricing and vacancies."
Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner added, "Digital radio will enhance the radio experience for listeners, broadcasters and advertisers. The Sentinel demonstration is just the start of broadcasters and listeners understanding the many and varied applications of this powerful and compelling technology."
The Australian service has been developed in conjunction with Sentinel's German technology partner GEWI and Woolard commented, "Europe's success in deploying digital radio, and developing and implementing these types of valuable services means that Australians would also be able to benefit from the time, efficiency, lower cost and safety benefits that our services provide."
Commercial Radio Australia has also released a first draft of technical and advertising production specifications for the synchronisation of "visual" and audio components of digital radio when it is launched in the country,
The draft was developed in conjunction with AdStream and Fairfax Digital with input and feedback from advertising creative directors, technical engineers and members of the digital radio advertising advisory group and the specifications are intended to achieve an easy to use and reliable digital radio production distribution process.
Wider industry feedback is now being sought and Warner commented of the move, "Creating specifications for advertising on digital radio is an important milestone that will facilitate the introduction of new inventive advertising opportunities. This should in time increase ad spend on commercial radio as well as attracting new advertisers to radio."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2008-10-06: Arbitron has moved forward its commercialization of Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings in eight new markets including New York, where attorney general Andrew Cuomo has said his office may take legal action to stop their introduction because of the effect on minority broadcasters (See RNW Oct 3). The commercialization was scheduled for Wednesday but was brought forward by two days, presumably to pre-empt Cuomo's action.
In connection with this Arbitron has filed suit in Federal Court to stop Cuomo's attempt to prevent publication of the PPM ratings, claiming that it would have an adverse effect on the radio and advertising industries and violate the company's First Amendment rights as well as causing its "business to suffer severe irreparable harm" and "would cause economic injury to Arbitron's shareholders." [RNW comment: Surely only a lawyer would need to add the second part since causing irreparable harm to a company's business must of necessity damage its shareholders! Or is it another example of the inability to use language to convey meaning accurately that seems to bedevil the US from the President and Vice-Presidential contenders downwards?].
In a release the company says it is seeking "a judgment declaring that the publication of its PPM listening estimates is fully protected by the U.S. and New York Constitutions; and a preliminary and permanent injunction along with a temporary restraining order enjoining the New York Attorney General from attempting to restrain or prevent Arbitron from publishing its PPM listening estimates."
Its president, chairman and CEO Stephen Morris commented in a release that the company had announced in November last year that it intended to commercialize the PPM ratings service in New York with the release on October 8, 2008, of the September 2008 PPM ratings.
"The New York Attorney General has waited until October 2, less than a week before our scheduled commercialization, to notify Arbitron that his office intends to bring a lawsuit seeking to enjoin alleged violations of New York law," he added. "Such conduct is unfair to Arbitron and is unfair to the radio and advertising industries. We are asking the United States District Court to uphold our First Amendment rights and to prevent the New York Attorney General from attempting to restrain publication of our Portable People Meter listening estimates."
Arbitron has also moved to take some of the sting out of the controversy about the effect on minority broadcasts by releasing "a series of analyses of the new September Portable People Meter radio ratings that highlight some of the successes of urban and Spanish-language stations across the eight new PPM markets."
These are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco in the top ten radio metros - the PPM is already currency in Houston and Philadelphia - plus Nassau-Suffolk, Middlesex-Somerset-Union, Riverside-San Bernardino and San Jose: the company has now released its September PPM ratings in all of them and says PPM ratings should now be considered currency date for advertising in them.
Morris said of the ratings, "Without PPM, the industry will not have up-to-date estimates of the radio audience in the nation's largest markets to facilitate an efficient buy-sell process for radio advertising. Advertisers are in the process of planning their ad budgets for all media including radio. Our goal with the commercialization of the PPM is to help radio remain competitive in an increasingly challenging media marketplace."
Amongst the results highlighted by Arbitron in a separate release are a top ranking in New York in the 25-54 demographic for Morning drive for The Steve Harvey Show on Inner City Broadcasting's WBLS-FM, which shares a 6.1 AQH with All-News WINS-AM, followed in third rank by Clear Channel's hits WHTZ-FM (Z-100) with 6.0.
In Chicago it says: "Piolin por La Mañana" on Univision's WOJO-FM is Number One amongst the 18-34 demographic in Morning Drive with an 8.9 AQH share followed by CBS Radio's Country WUSN-FM (US 99.5) with 8.3 and Clear Channel's hits WKSC-FM (Kiss FM) with 6.1.
The release also has figures for the San Francisco 18-34 demographic and Riverside-San Bernardino 25-54 demographic and Arbitron adds in the release that "African-Americans or Spanish-Dominant Hispanics have highest listening levels of all groups across new Portable People Meter radio markets."
RNW comment: With the limited figures released by Arbitron it is impossible to come to any reasonable conclusion as to how far the PPM will affect on minority broadcasters but the cynic in us reasons that if it had been able to produce good figures for their case in all markets Arbitron would have done so. The fact that the release has been so limited indicates to us that overall the figures are nowhere near as positive as Arbitron's spin makes them seem.
At the same time, we still think this is an issue for the radio industry rather than regulators - the FFC has launched a call for comments on the issue - and politicians. At the same time, there have to be reasons why Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation has not been forthcoming and if the change is indeed harmful to minority broadcasters because of weaknesses Arbitron is aware of and has failed to take reasonable measures to fix whilst pushing ahead with the system - unlikely we would estimate but not to be ruled out - we would certainly favour punitive damages against the company: Short of bankrupting it, these would transfer funds from Arbitron's shareholders to those harmed, a reasonably equitable decision in such circumstances.
We can only hope that the subpoenas and pressures on Arbitron are sufficient to force them to disclose adequate detail to refute claims of inaccuracy and inadequacy in the PPM results and methodology: So far all we've seen is rebuttal with partial (in both senses of the word) information.
2008-10-06: UK radio company Laser Broadcasting which owns nine radio licences and was forecasting that it would own a "minimum of fifteen profitable radio companies through acquisition" is facing a winding-up petition from a venture capital company to which it owes money.
Its chief executive is Nigel Reeve, who was sales and marketing director's launch sales and marketing director and who described its strategy as to "put the local back in local radio"
Calls to Laser are greeted by a recorded message that says nobody is available and the company's web site was down as were some other sites including that of Somerset station Quay West when we last checked although various station websites were still available (The Bath FM site describing itself as a temporary site", and those of Swindon-based Brunel FM, North Yorkshire station Fresh FM Warminster station 3TR - all with similar under construction messages- all linked to the same audio stream with a Local Radio Company URL).
Laser is based in Darlington and was founded in 2002: It currently controls Bath FM; Brunel FM; Fresh FM; 3TR; Quay West stations in west Somerset and Bridgwater and Sunshine stations in Ludlow, Hereford & Worcester and Hereford/Monmouth.
The winding up order has been brought by Gateshead-based venture capital firm Capital North East No 1 Limited Partnership and is to be heard on October 14 in the High Court: The Bath Chronicle quoted its lawyer as saying he could not say how much Capital was owed but that he had been in contact with Laser's solicitors but no payment was forthcoming.
As well as creditors it is reported that a some of Laser's staff have not been paid recently but so far all the stations seem to still be on air: Media regulator Ofcom said it was being kept fully informed by Laser adding that it was "aware that the stations may not be able to fully comply with their format requirements" during the period up to the court hearing but saying it does not "propose to take any formal action against the licensees during this period."
Bath Chronicle report:
2008-10-06: Salem Communications has added a business-formatted station to its Miami holdings with the launch of WZAB-AM "The Biz": It also owns Christian Teaching and Talk WMCU-AM and Conservative Talk WKAT-AM in the market.
Joe D. Davis, President of Salem's Radio Division, said that following the success of its business-formatted KDOW-AM in San Francisco it had "identified Miami as another market where we expect this increasingly popular format to be successful" and added, "Everyone is concerned about their jobs, their money, and their future. This dynamic body of timely content speaks to those concerns and provides a huge opportunity for our advertisers and for the Miami metro."
Salem has also revealed in an 8K filing that its President and Chief Operating Officer Eric H. Halvorson "has been terminated effective as of September 30, 2008, as a further cost cutting measure" although it says he will remain on the company's board of directors: When Halvorson was appointed to his current role from the start of July last year his contract gave him a base alary of USD 500,000 in the first year rising ins USD 25,000 increments to USD 550,000 in his third year on top of which he was to be eligible for an annual merit bonus and was granted the right to purchase 45,000 shares of Salem's A common stock, vesting annually in three equal instalments staring from June 25 this year.
2008-10-05: Last week was yet another one where there were no radio decision from Australia or Ireland and comparatively few elsewhere.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was involved in a number of radio postings including the following (In order of province):
*Approval of conversion of CTV Limited's CKKW-AM, Kitchener, to a 2,100 watts FM with the same Oldies format. A simulcast on AM and Fm will be allowed for three months from the commencement of operations of the new FM station.
*Renewal until 31 August 2015 of licence of Maritime Broadcasting System Limited's CFAN-FM, Miramichi.
*Renewal until 31 August 2015 of licence of Acadia Broadcasting Limited's CKBW-FM, Bridgewater, and its transmitters CKBW-FM-1, Liverpool, and CKBW-FM-2, Shelburne.
Renewal until 31 August 2015 of licence of Fawcett Broadcasting Limited's CFOB-FM, Fort Frances.
*Renewal until 31 August 2015 of licence of Type B Native station CKWE-FM, Maniwaki. The licence will be issued to the Radio Broadcaster of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation Band, authorizing Eleanor Whiteduck in her capacity as the Radio Broadcaster of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation Band, and any subsequent person2 occupying that position.
*Addition of condition requiring a minimum 115 minutes of News Programming as a condition of licence in connection with the application by 9183-9084 Québec inc. to acquire the assets of the French-language CHRC-AM, Québec, which the CRTC had already conditionally approved.
*Approval of move of transmitter of Corus Entertainment Inc.'s CFEL-FM. Montmagny, from its current location in L'Ange-Gardien to a new site in Québec. The CRTC also approved deletion condition of licence relating to maintaining Corus facilities in Montmagny and modifying Canadian talent development conditions.
Following the change, the station would no longer serve the Montmagny radio market but would instead target listeners in the market of Lévis and Québec.
*Renewal until 31 August 2015 of licence of Radio CJVR Ltd.'s CJVR-FM. Melfort, and its transmitters CJVR-FM-1, Dafoe; CJVR-FM-2, Waskesiu Lake; and CJVR-FM-3, Carrot River.
The CRTC also posted a public notice with a November 6 deadline for the submission of interventions of comments that included an application by Faithway Communications Inc., licensee of low-power specialty English-language commercial station CJRI-FM, Fredericton, to change frequency from 94.7 MHz to 104.5 MHz, a move it says is needed due to interference from a new FM radio station in the United States using the existing frequency of CJRI-FM.
It also posted a further Public Notice relating to receipt of applications for commercial service to serve Québec and invited applications from other parties t be submitted by December 2.
The agency stresses that in making the call it has not reached any conclusion about licensing a service at this time and notes that it has concerns regarding the ability of the Québec City market to absorb new commercial radio services.
From 2003 to 2007 it notes an average annual compound radio advertising revenue growth rate for the Québec City market of 1.8%, compared to 3.5% for the province of Quebec and 5.8% for Canada and it says that applicants will have to demonstrate not just a demand and market for the station but also that the Québec City market is able to support new services.
As already noted there were no radio announcements from Ireland but in the UK Ofcom as well as posting its latest Broadcast Bulletin in which it upheld just one radio complaint (See RNW Oct 1) also posted its Commercial Radio Broadcast Update for September in which it approved three format changes, lifted the "Yellow Card" it had imposed on Ocean FM; listed four DAB multiplex changes it had approved; and gave details of five Change of Control Reviews posted during the month.
The format changes agreed were for Midland News Association's The Severn, serving Shrewsbury and Oswestry; Adventure Radio's Dream 107.7 Chelmsford; and Media Sound Holding's Bright 106.4 (Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath and Lewes) and Splash FM (Worthing, Littlehampton and Shoreham).
The Severn was allowed to share programming with sister 107.2 The Wyre/Telford, FM after 10am weekdays and weekends: Ofcom commented that the "argument made is a clear one, and the area affinities are set out in the request. Breakfast and drivetime will still be locally made, and the mid-morning show will be regionally relevant."
Dream was allowed to co-locate with its new sister station Southend Radio (The station was sold to Adventure by Tindle Radio, who made the co-location request See RNW Sep 24).
Bright and The Splash were allowed to increase from three to four hours a day their networked programming. The company said it intends to run a "West Sussex Today" programme running from 11:00 to 15:00. The two stations have already been allowed to co-locate.
The Content Sampling Report found Global Radio's South Hampshire Ocean FM (formerly a GCap station), which was found in June (See RNW Jun 10) to be operating outside its format - it was said to be too rock-oriented for its Adult Contemporary format - only six months after it had been issued with a "Yellow Card" (See RNW Licence News, Dec 2, 2007) to now be operating within the format. The Yellow Card was lifted.
The DAB multiplex changes were the addition of "Chill" to the London III Multiplex and correlated removal from the London I multiplex; Replacement of Smooth FM with Jazz FM on the South Wales and Severn Estuary multiplex; and the addition of Focal Radio to the Stoke multiplex.
The Change of Control reviews involved Laser Broadcasting's 3TR-FM, Warminster, Bath FM and Brunel FM - all formerly owned by The Local Radio Company; CMG Radio Ltd's Lanarkshire station L107, which was rescued after it went off the air (See RNW Aug 21); Oldham station The Revolution bought by DJ Steve Penk from UKRD Group and Hirst Kidd & Rennie, the company behind the Oldham Chronicle. (See RNW Sep 4); former CanWest "Original 106" stations in Aberdeen and Bristol - sold to companies headed by Jonathan Arendt and Richard Johnson (See RNW Jul 30 and Jul 22); and Global Radio's acquisition of GCap Media.
Ofcom also posted more details about the award of a community licence to Corby Radio (See RNW Licence News Sep 21), noting the group's extensive broadcasting experience in the area with short-term restricted service radio licences and broad support. The station is to be allowed to The Radio Licensing Committee said it was satisfied that Corby Radio should be allowed to seek up to half of its respective annual income from the sale of advertising or programme/station sponsorship.
On the commercial licence front Ofcom pre-advertised the Western Isles licence held by Western Isles Community Radio Limited (broadcasting as Isles FM with a deadline for declarations of intent to apply of November 3. These have to be accompanied with a non-refundable fee of GBP 5,000 (USD 8,850) plus a deposit of GBP 1,000 (USD 1,770) which will be refundable upon receipt by Ofcom of a valid application in response to the subsequent re-advertisement of this licence. If only the current licensee expresses interest it will be invited to reapply but if there are no declarations the licence will not be re-advertised.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been involved in a number of enforcement actions, assessing default payments related to its FM Auction 37, and also issues of disputed licence assignments.
In Louisiana it issued two USD 9,000 forfeitures, each for failing to properly maintain a public file for a station.
The penalties were imposed on WFNO, L.L.C. licensee of WFNO-AM, Norco, and WGSO, L.L.C., licensee of WGSO-AM, New Orleans, both of whom had requested reductions of Notices of Apparent Liability to Forfeiture for these amounts.
WFNO had disclosed the breaches when it filed a licence renewal application and requested a reduction on the basis of a history of overall compliance with the Commission's Rules; that the forfeitures assessed against it are in excess of those imposed on other licensees for violations similar to or more serious in nature and that a 25% reduction in the forfeiture amount is warranted based on its voluntary disclosure of the public file deficiencies.
WFNO had disclosed the breaches when it filed a licence renewal application and requested a reduction on the basis of a history of overall compliance with the Commission's Rules; that the forfeitures assessed against it are in excess of those imposed on other licensees for violations similar to or more serious in nature and that a 25% reduction in the forfeiture amount is warranted based on its voluntary disclosure of the public file deficiencies.
The FCC disagreed regarding comparisons with other penalties, noting that public files were incomplete for 2 years and 4 months, missing ten Issues and Programs lists, as well as a contour map and ownership report; in regard to a history of compliance the FCC also disagreed, pointing to the period over which the breaches occurred and the fact that at the time the station was wholly-owned by MC Media, L.L.C., which also owned 100% of WFNO, L.L.C.; and regarding voluntary admission noted that this only came in the context of a licence renewal that compelled such disclosure. It confirmed the full penalty.
WGSO had put forward similar arguments and also requested a reduction on the basis of a history of overall compliance with the Commission's Rules. The FCC responded in similar vein to its response to the WFNO breaches and also noted that at the time of the breaches the station was wholly-owned by MC Media, L.L.C., which also owned 100% of WFNO, L.L.C.
In connection with its FM auction 37 in which Walton Stations - New Mexico, Inc., had placed a winning bid for a station in Tularosa, New Mexico, but had defaulted on its final payment obligation, the FCC ruled that Walton Stations owes an interim default payment of USD 18,120.00, 3% of its total net winning bid of USD 604,000.00. It is proposing to take the funds from payments on deposit from Walton and adds that once a subsequent high bid is established for the relevant spectrum, it will determine the final default payment obligation
In Alaska, the agency granted an application to assign the licences of KINY-AM and KSUP-FM, both licensed to Juneau, and their associated translator stations - K278AC, Kake; K279AF, Haines and Skagway; K280DX, Angoon; K280ED, Hoonah; K284AM, Skagway; and K300AB, Juneau from Alaska-Juneau Communications, Inc. to Juneau Alaska Communications, LLC.(JAC).
Staff had granted the application on July 21, 2008, and placed it on Public Notice on July 24, but subsequently staff received an Informal Objection from TLP Communications, Inc., Ketchikan, which had been filed on July 17. The grant was rescinded the grant on August 13, 2008.
TLP alleges that grant of the Application would result in JAC having a "monopoly" on the ownership of radio stations in Juneau, which "cannot be good for the people of Juneau or Southeast Alaska" and also raised issues relating to other broadcast stations in which JAC has an ownership interest, but are not included in the instant Assignment Application. In particular, TLP said it had filed an objection to the renewal of Stations KGTW-FM and KTKN-AM, Ketchikan, alleging that JAC had incorrectly certified that there had been no violations during the renewal term and incorrectly certified as to the operational status of two translator stations; that KTKN-AM improperly broadcast lottery information and that it had not properly discharged its Emergency Alert System ("EAS") responsibilities, and that unidentified "informed sources" have made similar accusations concerning KIFW-AM, Sitka.
In relation to the monopoly issue the FCC noted that the stations are not in an Arbitron Metro Survey and that in such cases it continues to continue to apply its contour overlap methodology under which the proposed transaction would be in compliance with the numerical limits of the local radio ownership rule.
In relation to the other matters it found that TLP had raised no substantial material question of fact warranting further inquiry - the issues relating to KGTW-FM and KTKN-AM resulted in an admonition last month (See RNW Licence News Sep 29) - and added that none of the allegations demonstrate that grant of the Assignment Application would be inconsistent with the public interest. The assignment was allowed.
Previous Licence News:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2008-10-04: Toronto-headquartered Corus Entertainment sees "excellent growth prospects" for its specialty and pay TV but is concerned about radio advertising because of worries that a weakening economy will undermines advertiser spending according to Business Edge.
It notes that net earnings for the third quarter to the end of May were up 27% (from CAD 29.6 million (USD 29.3 million) a year earlier to CAD 37.7 million (USD 37.3 million - see RNW Jul 9) on revenues up 5% to CAD 207.8 million (USD 205.4 million) and quotes from last month's update in which President and CEO John Cassaday said the company had "plans in place to deliver solid results once again in 2009" and singled out "excellent growth prospects within our women's specialty business with the addition of CosmoTV and CLT and, within our pay television service, with the addition of HBO Canada."
The Edge says Corus expects a consolidated operating profit of CAD 270 million to CAD 280 million (USD ) in its 2009 financial year, which began Sept. 1 but adds that advertising revenue has become a major focus for investors as the economy enters uncertain territory with talk of a recession.
National radio ad sales watcher Canadian Broadcast Sales - which represents about 60 per cent of private radio stations in the country, including Corus - said last week that sales were up 10.65 per cent for the last quarter of 2008 with overall, sales up 9.2 per cent for the year but Corus said its first quarter 2009 bookings lower than the figures a year ago.
The Edge quoted Adam Shine, an analyst at National Bank as saying "While we don't expect radio advertising to turn negative in 2009, we do expect results to trend toward the lower end of the historical mean growth rate for Canadian radio of 3.5 per cent to five per cent."
Business Edge report:
2008-10-03: New York State Attorney General Mario Cuomo has written to Arbitron accusing it of "unlawful and deceptive acts and practices" in connection with "the marketing and planned commercialization in New York of the Portable People Meter (PPM) methodology" and is planning to file suit against the company to stop its introduction of the system for radio ratings in the state.
Cuomo in his three-page letter says the company is trying to introduce the PPM without "addressing methodological flaws which disparately impacts racial and ethnic minorities" , which would breach the state's Civil Rights Law, and also accuses the company of creating a "misleading impression" that the PPM is "fair, reliable and fully represents the diversity of New York radio markets."
The letter says that to the contrary the PPM "appears to contain design flaws that will disproportionately impact minority communities, broadcasters, and businesses" and that "a significant and improper decline in ratings under a PPM system would cause minority stations to suffer drastic reductions in advertising revenues. This, in turn, would distort the marketplace and severely harm and possibly destroy minority broadcasting in New York."
Last month Cuomo issued a subpoena to Arbitron over the PPM (See RNW Sep 11), a move that was followed by another subpoena from New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram (See RNW Sep 16).
Arbitron, which in connection with the earlier subpoenas had said that the PPM ratings were "valid, fair and representative of the diversity of the radio markets measured" has responded to the latest Cuomo letter by saying it is "disappointed" that the Attorney General's office has said in intends to "pursue litigation in an effort to stop the implementation of Portable People Meter-a measurement tool that is supported by a majority of the radio industry. We intend to vigorously defend the Company and its interests" and adds, "We also fear that the radio industry will suffer continued harm and be placed at a competitive disadvantage if PPM is delayed further."
"After many years of market trials, and almost two years of commercialization," it says, "the PPM is providing more timely and detailed insights into the behaviour of radio audiences. These insights have already been used with demonstrated success by radio programmers, including those at urban and Spanish-language stations."
Arbitron concludes by saying, "Radio broadcasters, radio advertisers and Arbitron all have an important stake in the transition to electronic measurement. At Arbitron, we appreciate the role that all segments of the radio industry must play during this transition. We reaffirm our commitment to working with all radio broadcasters, agencies, and advertisers to facilitate industry-wide success in an electronically measured world."
2008-10-03: A poll commissioned by the watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting from Nanos Research indicates that almost two third of Canadians polled - the survey was a random phone survey of 1,201 Canadians carried out from September 27-9 - supported the current or increased levels of government spending on state broadcaster the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
The survey was commissioned in response to a pre-election fundraising letter signed by ruling Conservative Party campaign director Doug Finley in which one of the questions was, "The CBC costs taxpayers over CAD 1.1 billion [USD 1 billion] per year. Do you think this is a good use of taxpayers' dollars or a bad use of taxpayers' dollars?"
The responses showed men slightly more in favour of spending on the CBC than men - 64.5% of men said it was a good use of taxpayers dollars compared to 61.4% of women - with younger people more in favour than older respondents 66.9% of those aged 18-29 said it was a good use compared to 56% of those over 60. Overall some 14% favoured cutting back the CBC's budget
Unsurprisingly Conservative voters were least in favour - 57.6% saying it was a good use compared to 70.8% of Liberal Party voters and 69.1% of NDP (New Democratic Party) voters: Most in favour were Green voters with 75.4% saying the money was well spent.
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting noted that Finley's letter continued "I will personally share the overall results and any comments with the Prime Minister...People like you drive our policy development..." and that PM Stephen Harper is on record as favouring the commercialization of some CBC services, including the Radio 2 network, and funding only those without commercial alternatives.
Friends' spokesman Ian Morrison commented in this context that "Mr. Harper should tell Canadians where he stands on CBC funding and what he means by the commercialization of CBC Radio" adding, "The Prime Minister's Office knows that the CBC is popular in Canada and that the majority of people who vote Conservative like the CBC. There is all kinds of evidence about Mr. Harper's anti-CBC bias, but the Conservatives probably believe that it's not an issue that will lose them votes."
He suggested this was not the case that any major cuts would provoke anger, commenting, "They would have a hell of a fight on their hands because nobody can say that ordinary people don't listen and watch CBC."
2008-10-02: Sirius XM has now launched its A La Carte service and "Best of Both" programming options together with its Starmate 5 Dock & Play Radio, the first receiver that allows A La Carte Channel selection. The receiver retails at just under USD 130.
The Best of Both programming unlike the A La Carte service will be available to most current subscribers without any need to purchase a new receiver and will cost USD 16.99, USD 4.04 more than a Sirius or XM subscription package: Amongst programming XM subscribers will gain access to are the Howard Stern and Martha Stewart shows plus Sirius NFL and NASCAR channels whilst Sirius customers gain access to programming including shows by Oprah Winfrey; Opie and Anthony; and XM Public Radio plus various sports services including play-by-play of select NBA and NHL games; and live coverage of all the events of the PGA Tour.
Previous Sirius XM:
2008-10-02: Global Radio, which had already promoted Nicola Thomson from her role as director of marketing for Heart, LBC and Galaxy, to group director of the whole of its GCap/Global group as it moves to integrate GCap into its operations, has also introduced a group-level programming structure.
It has appointed Luis Clark, the programme director of Heart FM in the Midlands, as Heart Group Programming Director in charge of the 32 local stations in its Heart Network: His former deputy Paul Gerrard becomes Midlands programme director.
In other moves it has made Jonathan Richards head of news for Global Radio and Mike Cass Galaxy Radio group programme director.
Richards retains his former role as head of news and programme director for talk station LBC but takes on responsibility for news output across the group whilst Cass, who was Galaxy director of programming will have a wider remit including the launch of Galaxy in Scotland and Hampshire next month.
All the new programming promotions take effective immediately and those involved will report to Richard Park, Global's Group executive director and director of broadcasting.
In other UK radio news, Planet Rock, which was sold by GCap to businessman Malcolm Bluemel (See RNW June 5) has won the Best Radio Station Award at this year's BT Digital Music Awards.
The award is made on the basis of a combination of votes from listeners and a judging panel and on its site the station says to its listeners, "Thanks to a sterling effort from you we managed to fight off competition from BBC 6Music, BBC Asian Network, Gaydar Radio and Passion For The Planet to pick up the trophy."
Programming Director Trevor White adds, "To be named as 'Best Radio Station' is really special because Planet Rock listeners won this award by voting for us in their thousands, so it belongs to all of us. In the last week, under the new ownership of Malcolm Bluemel, we have left GCap, set up new offices, got a new sales team and started broadcasting from our own studios, so the award is a great way to start Planet Rock's new adventure as a truly independent radio station"
The station has also now signed a long-term deal for continued carriage on the Digital One national commercial multiplex that has carried it since it launched in 1999.
Bluemel commented of the deal, "As the leading digital radio station in the UK we plan to cement Planet Rock as the preferred choice of everyone who has a love of radio and good music. The contract with Digital One gives us the ability to do just that. This is the future of radio, you heard it here first!"
Previous Global Radio:
Previous Planet Rock:
2008-10-02: Bakersfield, California, KERN-AM host Scott Cox will not face any charges for removing campaign signs in what he said was a stunt, according to the Bakersfield Californian.
The paper quotes District Attorney Ed Jagels as saying that charges could not be brought as host office could not prove Cox planned to take the campaign sings permanently and adding that for an offence to be theft, "A person must have intent at the time the item was stolen to permanently deprive the owner of that property."
Kern High School District trustee Chad Vegas whose signs were removed told the paper , "Bottom line, our district attorney is not as interested in justice as he is in public opinion. That is the most stupid line of logic" and added that had Cox not been a popular radio host he thought Jagels would have pressed charges.
Cox, who had said his plan was to feign outrage on his KERN News/Talk 1410 show that Vegas signs were disappearing, then replacing them and take credit for negotiating the return of the signs, was suspended for two days by the station (See RNW Sep 29).
He was back on air on Monday and commented that he had not thought the DA would file charges as it would waste the court's time, adding, "Suffice it to say, I'm very happy and look forward to getting on with my life."
RNW comment: The UK has specific charges of taking without an owner's consent when motor vehicles have been removed as by joy riders but it would not be possible to prove intention to deprive the owner of the vehicle permanently. Perhaps the idea should have wider application.
Bakersfield Californian report:
2008-10-02: RadioScape is to pull out of making DAB modules for the consumer market and change its emphasis to more profitable activities including bespoke DAB receiver design and professional receivers. Its Broadcast division makes a range of professional receivers engineered to address professional monitoring and recording applications.
CEO John Hall said the company is making the move because of the price pressures, particularly from Asia, commenting, "With the increasing availability of highly integrated, low cost, radio receiver chipsets from the Far East, DAB radio manufacturers and brands are increasingly able to develop new products without the need for using a traditional module solution. There will still be a place for modules, but over the next year we expect to see further significant downward movement on price points and margins as Asian semiconductor companies make stronger moves to address this market. Module prices in the USD 8-9 range are now being quoted for 2009. 3 years ago the equivalent device would sell for over USD 30."
RadioScape says its Consumer Receivers Division will continue to take orders from existing module customers through the end of 2008 and all customers will be offered the opportunity for last time buys in December this year.
Regarding bespoke designs the company says it has developed several complete radio designs in conjunction with manufacturing partners, including a range of new products now in production for a major retailer for the Christmas market.
"In using our system level know-how and software radio IP in this way we are taking a new approach to add greater value and drive improved margins in some specific segments. We will watch the success of this initiative with great interest over the coming months," added Hall.
Of the move towards professional receivers, built on the same core IP as its consumer modules, Hall said, "We are very fortunate to have multiple ways to leverage our core receiver IP. As the consumer market continues to squeeze margins the Broadcast market is demanding ever more sophisticated professional receiving and recording products. This is an area of renewed emphasis for us".
2008-10-01: The US Senate has now passed the Webcaster Settlement Act, which was passed unanimously by the House last weekend (See RNW Sep 29 ), thus extending until February next year the deadline for webcasters to negotiate their own royalties deal with SoundExchange, the body that collects performance royalties on behalf of artists and labels.
Any rates negotiated would replace the fees set last year by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) at a level that many of the webcasters say would put them out of business.
Reacting to the passage of the legislation, which now has to be signed into law by President Bush, Tim Westergren founder of Internet music service Pandora which had spearheaded a call to lobby lawmakers on the matter and said that the CRB rates would mean the company would have to close, commented in his blog, "Hooray! We still have to finish up the negotiations, but now the table is set. "
He went on to thank everyone for their "incredible support over the past few days", adding, "It was just extraordinary."
Jonathan Potter, Executive Director of the Digital Media Association (DiMA), in a release thanked Congress for acting so quickly to pass the Act and continued, "This legislation will enable DiMA and our member companies, and all Internet radio services, to continue negotiating royalty rates with SoundExchange for the years 2005-2015. We are very hopeful of reaching agreement soon, and thereby creating long-term stability that will re-energize the Internet radio business."
2008-10-01: Australia's latest "radio network" is to launch tomorrow, using the country's 3G mobile network to broadcast some 30 music channels.
The Stripe Radio Network - the first subscription service in Australia - will be available online and via the Optus mobile phone network for AUD 7.95 (Approx USD 6.25) a month and describes itself as "the next phase in the evolution of radio."
Its founder Glenn Wheatley said it would provide a "platform for Australian artists, a place for different music to be heard, exclusive programs, live concerts and stations totally dedicated to feature artists."
"Stripe will revolutionise radio as FM did in the 80s. You can quote me on that," he concluded.
Stripe web site music genres page:
2008-10-01: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest bulletin upholds standards complaints against six TV programmes and also one radio standards complaint. It also considered a further radio complaint and a further TV complaint resolved through action taken by the broadcaster and partly upheld a TV Fairness and Privacy Complaint.
The numbers compare with four radio and ten TV standards complaints upheld in the previous bulletin in which it also considered another TV standards complaint resolved through action already taken by the broadcaster and also posted details of one TV standards complaint and another TV fairness and privacy complaint that it did not uphold.
The radio complaint upheld involved a Cinema give-away competition during the breakfast show on GCap Media's Mercury FM (Crawley): GCap had told Ofcom that during the competition, in which there was a prize of two cinema tickets, the telephone system failed and that to complete the competition the presenter announced a fictitious winner's name on air.
It added that all radio stations within the GCap group use a computer-based telephone system to route studio calls and that during networked programmes, the system is configured to forward all regional telephone calls from listeners to the network studio centre in Bristol: For regional programmes the presenter is supposed to manually disable the diversion function but in this case the presenter had failed to do so and thus any calls made would have been diverted to the network studio centre in Bristol. The line used was a local number and the prize was not awarded and after the incident the presenter responsible for ensuring that the content of the programme adhered to the Code, emailed the station's Programme Controller who immediately reported the matter to the Legal department and the Regional Managing Director.
The station transmitted an apology and posted an apology on its website explaining that during the contest entries had not got through to the studio and that "As a result, we announced on air a winner's name who had not entered the contest. This was a grave mistake on the part of the presenter and Mercury FM would like to apologize unreservedly for this."
Ofcom, although it ruled that its rules had been breached, noted that no consumer harm was caused because no calls were answered and that that the presenter referred the matter to her seniors and her contract was subsequently terminated by GCap and that Mercury FM (Crawley) had apologised to its listeners for the incident.
It concluded that it "expects Mercury FM (Crawley) to take particular care in ensuring that the conduct of its future competitions complies with the Code and that its staff is appropriately trained to deal with technical problems if they arise."
The radio case considered resolved through action taken by the broadcaster involved Bauer Radio's Northern Ireland station Cool FM: During the "Drivetime with PK" show in which a caller was put on air and gave an incorrect answer - "Munich" - as the location in which Jesse Owens won Olympic Gold in front of Adolf Hitler but was announced as the winner of a prize of a trip for two to that destination and entry into a draw to win a car. This elicited a complaint to Ofcom from a listener who pointed out that the correct answer was Berlin and thus all those who answered correctly had been unfairly excluded from the competition.
In addition to the above also listed without details 231 TV complaints against 112 items and 12 radio complaints against 12 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compares with 268 TV complaints against 119 items and 15 radio complaints against 17 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
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